Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tech Tips Tuesday

This week's tip: Make it your New Year's Resolution to Get Connected in 2009 (if you're not already!)

  • You learn so much through developing a personal learning network online
  • You meet new people and can support one another
  • You find new resources to use in the classroom


  • Read blogs and leave comments. You can search for blogs with Google Blog Search.
  • Start up your own blog on a hobby or interest
  • If you're blogging about Teaching in K-6, consider submitting posts to the Teaching K-6 Blog Carnival at http://www.blogcarnival.com/
  • Sign up - for Twitter, Facebook, Plurk or other social networks of your choice. Set up some sort of profile that lets people know a little about you. They probably won't choose to follow you if they don't know who you are or what you have in common with them.
  • Seek out people to follow. On Twitter there are Twitter Groups that you can sign up to in order to find people with similar interests. For teachers on Twitter, there's the Twitter4Teachers wiki. On Facebook you can create or join up to 200 groups! I'm not sure about Plurk as I don't use it...yet!
  • Start chatting. Share your ideas with others. Ask people's opinion on things. Share things you are finding online. You will be amazed by how much you can learn from one another.
  • Consider joining or creating a relevant ning to connect further with people with similar interests. I'm part of the Oz/Nz Educators Ning. I'm still finding my feet in here, but hope to get a lot more involved in the new year.
  • Use Skype to talk with people around the world for free. I've heard of teachers who use Skype to connect with other schools as well as experts on topics being researched in class.

Want more?

SO... Have fun in 2009 and GET CONNECTED!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Year That Was - 2008

January - Spent most of the school holidays rennovating our new house - ripping up carpet, sanding and polishing floorboards, painting, etc (still haven't completed this job!)

February - Started the school year at my new school. It was a bit of a rocky start and it took me a little while to figure out how to function effectively there. Started Spanish 2 Certificate at the local Institute of Technology.

March - I had nominated to be The Primary School Sports Association representative for my school. I received no information about this, but suddenly some of our boys had missed their cricket trials. I was given permission to run another trial and manage a second team for our area. Up until this point I had never watched a full game of cricket in my life! I found some people who actually know about cricket and we worked it all out. The team I was managing actually came second!

April - My school had a big birthday. I had a couple of 1st year preservice teachers in to observe my class for a week. We did a three-week unit of work on artists - Monet, Turner and Van Gogh.

May - I ran the Great Ocean Road Marathon (well, I walked a bit of it). This was a killer and really put my stamina to the test. I haven't really got back into my running again since, but still hope to pick it up again at some point. I had another preservice teacher in to share the teaching of my class. We started a unit of work "Home Sweet Home" which involved an excursion to a local construction site, building houses from straws and paddlepop sticks, and building a class cubby house.

June - I turned 30. My hubby organised a trip back to New York City for us. We rented a place in Chelsea and lived the life for 5 weeks. It felt like we were home again. New things we 'discovered' and enjoyed this time included Hooters buffalo wings, Shakespeare in the Park, Honeymoon Beer, 4th July fireworks, weekly softball, Gordon Ramsey's "The London" restaurant, The Steinway Piano Factory, mojitos, and poker with friends.

July - I started exploring things more on the computer. I discovered podcasts and began downloading them to listen to on my ipod. I also remembered my love of reading and enjoyed reading a bunch of books.

August - I began this blog. I continued to learn and grow in my knowledge of ICT and its use in the classroom. We started a unit of work on the Olympic Games. At home, we struggled through what was left of winter without a heater.

September - I got hooked on Twitter and started my Link 4 Learning podcast. Reached 7 year wedding anniversary. Hubby was away with work so he sent a beautiful bunch of flowers and organised a trip for us in Brisbane. Started a history unit of work on "The Way We Were".

October - Went to Brisbane for a holiday and enjoyed taking it easy for a few days and soaking in some sun. Also got my iPhone. Where would I be without my iPhone!!

November - Started weeding my veggie patch and planting seeds. They took forever to grow. Wrote reports. Started new unit of work "Are We There Yet?"

December - Finished off the school year and packed up all my stuff. House was burgled on the second last day of school. Enjoyed a quiet Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tech Tips Tuesday

I've been struggling over the last couple of days, trying to work out what to give you as a tip today. There's the USB TV tuner I bought the other day, which has been providing me with television - but that's not much use unless you need TV, and I'm not satisfied enough with one of the connector pieces to recommend the particular brand I bought. In fact, I'm tossing up whether to take it back to the shop - and fight the last-minute Christmas shopping crowds.

Then there's a cool painting program that was recommended to me by @teachernz on Twitter. It's called ArtRage 2.5 (the free version) and makes for a fun play with paint without all the usual mess associated with painting. This picture is my attempt at playing with paint this morning. See how paint like it is? It 'runs out' when you haven't 're-dipped' the brush and mixes with colours you paint over.

But what I really want to give you this close to Christmas, is something you don't have to install, or spend money on, or give a lot of thought to. Something simple and useful that you can come back to once the Christmas dust has settled.

This week's tip: Flickr in the Art Lesson

Often when teaching an art lesson, I want to provide my students with visual inspiration while they work. I've done this in the past with posters, photo books, or objects. Earlier this year I started accessing Google Images for relevant pictures to help students get ideas. The problem I found with this was that I had to click through the pages, or pull photos onto a slideshow prior to the lesson.

Later in the year, I discovered how Flickr could work for me. Simply type in the search item eg. 'geckos' and up comes all the relevant photos and videos. Click on the slideshow icon on the top right, and it will play through all the images. I can now set the slideshow going on the interactive whiteboard while students work at their desks, and if it comes to the end, one of the kids jumps up and sets it going again. You can set the slideshow to go at a pace you want, and if you want to pause it at any time you can. There are also descriptions written by the photographer that may add more information to the topic you are covering. A couple of my students found these photographs really engaging and created quite detailed artwork as a result.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday Fun

This was the final week for school in my state. It was another busy week, but still fun.

Fun This Week:

Are We There Yet? YES! - This week we finished off our imaginary journey around Australia. The last few pages of "Are We There Yet?" by Alison Lester were a bit of a rush, but we made it! I created an online quiz using ProProf which we did as a class and then I was going to have students do it in the lab. Unfortunately, the videos didn't work at school due to system blocking of videos. But if you want to check it out, you can see it here:

So instead of doing the quiz in the lab, students explored the SmartBoard Notebook containing all the videos/photos etc for the term. It was a great way for students to review the material. We then went back to the classroom where they tried to label an Australian map with states and capital cities. I was REALLY impressed with how much they had learnt. The following day we actually read another story about a journey around Australia called "Santa's Aussie Holiday" by Maria Farrer and Anna Walker. It was interesting to hear the discussion as the kids compared the two journeys.
Gifts - Students made and wrapped gifts for their families. (I'm not going to spill the beans about those!)

Swimming Pool - On Thursday the junior school (K-2) went to the pool for the morning. The kids did a lot of swimming and splashing early on. Towards the end a couple of my boys set up their own little soccer field and started playing soccer. A couple of the girls joined in as cheer leaders. I was most impressed as they did it all on their own initiative without any encouragement whatsoever from me!

Class Party - On Friday afternoon some of the parents organised a class party for the kids. It was a pretty wild half-hour so I think we were all quite glad it was at the end of the day! Again, the kids showed initiative - climbing on chairs, stacks on, and running around the classroom!!! (It's much better when they use their powers for good!) The parents were really lovely with all their kind words and gifts. It was a pleasure working with them.

Goodbyes, Hellos and Welcome Backs

I've never been good at goodbyes. I remember bawling my eyes out as a 4 year old when it was time to leave my grandmother's house! It's been much the same all through my life, but I've found different ways to deal with it. These days I don't bawl my eyes out (which was probably healthy really!!!) instead, I deny the inevitable for as long as possible. I've got so good at denial these days that I can almost avoid the feeling of loss completely! I just tell myself that I'm bound to see these people again some day and avoid that thought that this might be it.

Because of this crazy game I play, I always find the final couple of weeks of the school year very stressful. I keep on teaching like the year isn't ending up until it really IS ending and then I have a frantic rush to send home work, clean the classroom and make cards and gifts for all the kids. The last thing I always seem to be doing on the last day of the school year, is shredding. I stand at the shredder with the massive pile of assessment, notes and personal records and shred. And that's the final goodbye to a year of teaching.

Paired with goodbyes are usually 'hellos' or as is often the case for me 'welcome backs'. The excitement of these mingles with the sadness of goodbyes to make a crazy emotional cocktail.

So, to those of you who have said 'goodbye' to me or 'welcome back' and didn't get the sort of response you expect at that time, I'm sorry.

To those at the school I am leaving: I've had an amazing year. I've worked with a brilliant teaching team and learnt so much from working with them. I've enjoyed the time I've had to explore new ideas with my class - to play and learn with the kids on a daily basis. The kids have definitely kept me on my toes with their energy and enthusiasm. It was great to get to know the parents of the kids I teach this year and see new ways to improve communication between home and school. (Thank you so much for your generous end of year gift!) I've had a very supportive executive staff who were willing to send me on any PD that I could benefit from. The staff as a whole has been friendly and supportive.

And to those at my 'new' school (which is actually my 'older' school): I'm looking forward to being back with you all. I'm keen for the challenge of Year 4 and can't wait to start working with the kids I had to say 'goodbye' to when I went to New York City for a year! I'm so excited to get a second chance with you.

So... maybe we don't actually have to say 'goodbye' after all.

The Blogger Behind This Blog #2

Bad things don't seem to happen very often to me. And when they do, they don't end up seeming so bad. Everything works out quite quickly and with minimal inconvenience. I wouldn't say that I'm particularly lucky, just not unlucky. And I have an amazing husband who bends over backwards to make life good for me.

During the week my house was burgled. I came home after pool day, staff lunch, and welcome drinks at my new school to find a number of things not quite right outside and wasn't sure what to expect when I got inside. I thought that maybe my hubby had come home early from a business trip. But as I have the only set of keys, I thought that unlikely. I stepped through the door and looked into the lounge room. My 42 inch plasma TV had been ripped off the wall (literally) leaving a great gaping hole in the lounge room wall. A quick look around showed me that there were other things missing too - including my laptop. The laptop I use to blog, podcast, twitter, EVERYTHING!

Long story short, cops were called and came, insurance was called (should be able to recover costs), friends and family came to my aid and all is good.

The miracle is... As my laptop was getting full and slow, my wonderful, amazing, perfect husband had bought me a new laptop for Christmas and had wrapped it up and left it in the spare room for me. Miraculously, the burglars didn't take it. And the best bit of it all - my wonderful, amazing, perfect husband had actually copied all the files from the old laptop onto the new laptop before he left so that I could start using it straight away! So, as soon as the cops had left and the dust had settled, Hubby treated me to an early Christmas - my Christmas Miracle!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tech Tips Tuesday

This week's tip: Making a Class Movie/Photostory

As an end of year gift for our students, the year 1 teachers decided to make a movie/photostory using photos taken of students throughout the year.
I used Photostory 3 and Bec used Windows Movie Maker. We thought it would be fun to get together and do a comparison of the two programs.

Windows Movie Maker
Bec chose to use Movie Maker as it was already installed on her home computer and she had done a PD on it previously.

  • You can click and drag pictures into the story board
  • It's easy to add music to the movie
  • Title frames can be inserted without photo backgrounds
  • Transition selection and video effects are user friendly (click and drag)
  • Can include video segments
  • Easy to include credits
  • Photos are not stored in the file, so you need to use the same computer in order to access the pictures while editing
  • Periodically crashes and can be slow to load
  • Need to save frequently
  • To finalise and burn the movie to CD within the program takes a considerable amount of time (40mins on Bec's computer)

Photostory 3
I chose Photostory 3 because it is the main one the teachers at my school were using, and because I got frustrated using Windows Movie Maker when I couldn't edit the file on another computer.

  • Able to crop and edit photos within the program
  • Guides the user in a sequential process to create the photostory
  • Designed to use photos rather than video


  • It is difficult to rearrange the order of the photos, so it's best to import them in the order you intend to display them
  • Can't use video segments - photos only
  • Can't insert text slides (text has to be on the image)
  • To make the images fit with the audio, you need to resize the length of time for each image and save changes each time - quite a lengthy process
  • Inserting Slide Transitions is time consuming if you want to personalise them

I also chatted with our ICT specialist and she says that when working with students, she finds Photostory better for younger children with less ICT experience. She has had success with Windows Movie Maker with Year 6 students creating their Graduation movie.

These are our thoughts. Let us know what you've found from your experiences using Windows Movie Maker, Photostory 3, or some other program.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Google Jockeying

I got busy catching up on bookmarked sites last night. I've seen so much great stuff lately, but just haven't had the time to investigate them further.

One of these great sites was listed on EdTechTalk's 100 Bookmarks on Delicious. It's called 7 Things You Should Know and is a series of fact sheets about emerging learning technologies. They're all really great, but the one that I loved most of all, was the one about Google Jockeying. Why? Because I tried this even before I heard about it, and it feels good to know that it's a recognised teaching strategy and to see how to use it 'properly'!

I really recommend you check out the fact sheet, but basically, Google Jockeying is when one student sits at a computer and searches for relevant images, information etc about the topic while the teacher speaks to the class. This information is displayed for the class to see and the teacher can draw on the additional resources to support teaching, further discussion etc. The GJ (!) is responsible for thinking of appropriate sources, keywords etc and learns a lot through this process. The rest of the class is more engaged as they are receiving the information through multi-sensory means.

The fact sheet talks about this strategy in terms of a University setting, however it can work just as nicely in a Primary School classroom. I accidentally tried this idea while I was reading a story to the class and talking about the style of the illustrator. As there was a student computer right beside me, I got one of the students up to Google the illustrator's name and then we looked at a picture of her and read about her techniques. We also discussed how the author writes about environmental themes, which led us to plant pests like Rosy Dock and Patterson's Curse. Another kid jumped on the computer and Googled Patterson's Curse so we could see what it looked like. It was a very easy strategy, that even my Year 1s could handle. I realise that I was directing my students with this task, but wouldn't it be great to have a student working away at this in the background. Think of the potential with older kids! And if you have an interactive whiteboard or digital projector in the classroom, it would make the display of information more effective.

This is a strategy that I will be adding to my tool kit for use next year. What do you think?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Fun

This week has been a bit of a crazy week as we wind down toward Christmas, take down work, and finish things off. We've still managed to do some learning and have a bit of fun while we're at it.

Fun this week:
Sheep Shearing - The characters in "Are We There Yet?" learnt how to shear sheep, so we joined them with this learning. We watched a video of a sheep being shorn and then students wrote about how they would feel if they were the shearer. We then watched the video a second time and students thought and wrote about the perspective of the sheep.

We watched the Pixar video "Boundin'" and talked about the reasons for shearing sheep, and considered who benefits from this. Students also discussed what they do to cheer themselves up when they are feeling down.

Theme Parks - The children in "Are We There Yet?" went on a ride at Surfers Paradise, so we included the Gold Coast theme parks as part of our journey. We watched a couple of YouTube videos of a rollercoaster ride at Movie World. One video was filmed from the ground and the other from on the ride.

Students compared the two videos and discussed the visual impact of each. We looked at online interactive maps of Movie World, Sea World, Dream World and Wet 'n' Wild. We discussed the features of the maps including the key and then students worked in small groups to design and decorate their own theme park maps. Students also wrote a journal entry about their imaginary day at Sea World.

Assembly - This week it was our turn to host the school assembly. We learnt the song "It's Raining on the Rock" and did some clapping sticks, swaying and coloured scarves with it. We only had time to learn the chorus, but it tied in so well with our unit of work "Are We There Yet?" that I couldn't let it slip by. We also shared our Daintree Rainforest posters. Some of the other Year 1 students showed their artwork of Uluru.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tech Tips Tuesday

A couple of teachers that I work with have mentioned that they would love to be able to create and access a collection of their links online. At the time that they mentioned it, Delicious was blocked by our school system. Now however, it has been unblocked and is a very useful tool for this very purpose. I am putting together my own collection of links with relevant tags to help me sort them for different purposes. My plan is to share these links with other teachers, students and parents, by providing them with the address for the collection.

Teachers might like to make up a collection of sites to use with their classes.
Parents might like to make up a collection of sites for their children to access, or to save and organise sites for themselves!

So, with that in mind...

Today's tip: Getting Started With Delicious
1. Go to http://www.delicious.com/ If you want to know more before signing up, click on "Learn More".
2. Join up by clicking on 'Join Now'.
3. Follow the steps to register. You may or may not want to add the buttons to your toolbar. I find them useful as they save a lot of time when I find a site I want to add to my collection. You also may or may not want to import your bookmarks. I imported them for my personal collection, but found that it made it very cluttered. For my second account (the one I plan to use as a teacher) I didn't import any bookmarks, but rather I am building the collection and using consistent tags.
4. Once you are logged in you can explore other people's links by themed tags or by popularity.
5. You can see your own bookmarks by clicking on the "bookmarks" tag.

Saving a site to your collection
1. Find a site you like. If you installed the buttons to your toolbar, click on "Save to Delicious".
2. A page will pop up with boxes for you to add any notes you want to provide about the site, and any tags to help sort your pages by different categories.
3. It's useful to include lots of tags that are relevant to the page. Think of categories ie. early childhood, middle primary etc, but also content related: audio stories, maths, reading, books etc. If the site is popular, there will be suggested tags that you can click on to use as your own tags.
4. When you are happy with your comments and tags, click on "save".

If you do NOT install the buttons to your toolbar, you can save links by logging in and then clicking on the "Save a new link" link on the right hand side. It will then prompt you to type in the URL before taking you to the form mentioned above.

If you think it sounds useful to you, try it out and see what you think. I've been busy bookmarking and am looking forward to going back and revisiting all the things that grabbed my attention!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Enthusiastic Teachers

In the past week I have been chatting with other teachers in the staffroom. I’ve been encouraged by the enthusiasm of the newer teachers as they discuss their ideas for the future and speak with excitement about their professional learning and plans to implement Developmental Curriculum in the early childhood classrooms. On the flip-side, I’ve heard a couple of teachers saying that they are no longer interested in their professional development and are just happy to continue teaching using the methods they’ve learnt and come to depend upon.

With this disparity in the thinking of a group of teachers, it’s easy to see why the two will clash. One group desires to learn and change, while the other group feels there is no need. And it isn’t just an age thing either. There are many older, more experienced teachers who continue to look for ways to improve their teaching, and try to keep their methods relevant and interesting to the children coming into their classes.

I feel disheartened when I see teachers who are just hanging in there, waiting out the time until their retirement. I feel sorry for the children in their classes who are left with a dull, worn-out impression of learning. I worry that I too, will one day come to that stage in my teaching where I stop caring and run out of the energy to make learning fresh and interesting each day.

I came across this article about Teacher Enthusiasm Research that reviews the findings of a number of studies on the impact of a teacher’s enthusiasm on student learning. It argues that teacher enthusiasm makes a course more enjoyable, entertaining and memorable. The study goes on to look at levels of teacher enthusiasm as expressed through vocalization, eye contact, facial expression, movement and gesture. This study observes the occurence of these things in both a beginning teacher and a more experienced teacher. While I believe these physical aspects can be learned and developed, I feel that a portion of enthusiasm actually comes from within.
While these aspects definitely communicate a teacher’s enthusiasm about the topic, a lot of a teacher’s enthusiasm (particularly with young children) is also expressed before the lesson is presented – in the creation of lessons and the preparation of resources. Teachers who are lifelong learners themselves are going to motivate students to love learning more than teachers who have reached the point where they know it all - aren't they?

Is there a point in a teacher's career where he/she can honestly say that they have perfected the craft? Or is it out of laziness, boredom, or exhaustion that they give up trying?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Classroom Chats #1 Reflections of Beginning Teachers

Classroom Chats is a new feature of the Teaching Challenges Blog. Here teachers chat about the challenges they face in the classroom and the successes they experience. In this episode I chat with Bec and Kym, two beginning teachers, as they reflect on their teaching in the past year.

Bec has previous experience with relief teaching, teaching in a school library, and in 2007 shared a year 2 class with another teacher. This year she had her own class with all the related challenges.

Kym is Early Childhood trained and did her Internship at our school in 2007. In term one of this year she directed a pre-school room in a childcare setting. She joined Bec and I in Year 1 at the beginning of second term. She had the challenge of joining a school partway through the year and taking on a difficult class in her first year of teaching.
Thanks to Matt for the guitar intro to classroom chats. You're a legend Matt!

Click here to listen to our classroom chat.
If you are having trouble with the links, you can see the original to download the audio file.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Fun

On Fridays I like to reflect on some of the more enjoyable things from the week. In my complete exhaustion it reminds me of the great learning that has taken place during the week and helps to refresh me for the week ahead.

Fun this week:

Advent Calendars - This week we made star advent calendars to count down the days until Christmas. The star was a geometrical pattern and we made colourful links - one for each of the days until Christmas. Children take off one link each day as they count down to Christmas.

"Photoshopping" with Paint - I taught students how to use MSPaint to cut a photo of themselves and paste it onto a background. I saved background files from the Creative Commons Attribute Licence page with a name that referred to the photographer. Students made their new pictures and printed it out with a sentence attributing the background to the flickr artist.

Investigating Capacity in the sandpit - Students paired off and selected a small container and a larger container. They estimated how many sand-loads of the small container would fill the larger container. After 30 minutes of focused 'work', I gave them 15 minutes playtime in the sandpit.

Great Barrier Reef Paintings - We painted an A3 sheet of paper with water colour blues. We then cut out sea creatures from bright coloured paper and glued these onto the background. Students got ideas from a flickr slideshow based on the search "Great Barrier Reef". I also took digital photographs of students pretending to swim and printed these out for students to include in their artwork.

Shivoo - On Thursday night we had our end of year concert - our Shivoo. A stage was set up in the school playground and families brought picnic baskets and picnic rugs to pread out on the lawn for our performances. The classes performed a range of great items to entertain. The Year 1 classes did "On the Good Ship Lollipop" to tie in with our "The Way We Were" unit and "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree" to tie in with our "Are We There Yet?" unit. Once students had finished their performances, they either sat with their parents, or played with their friends. They had a ball! They wrote a journal entry about the night the next day in class.

Heads or Tails - We explored chance through the game of "Heads and Tails" and then students experimented with coins to record the way the coin landed after a number of flips.

Daintree Rainforest - After reading "Where The Forest Meets The Sea" by Jeannie Baker and discussing some facts about the rainforest, students began designing posters to encourage people to look after the Daintree Rainforest without actually writing "Protect the Daintree Rainforest". The challenge I set was to make it look so beautiful that no one would want to harm it. They got a good start to the posters and will finish them next week.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Carnival of Education

In the blogging community, there are things called blogging carnivals. Someone agrees to 'host' the carnival, which involves reading through all the submitted blog posts and writing a blog post that includes links to these posts. At the Carnival of Education, this is always done really creatively. This week's carnival is called "A Christmas Carnival" and is hosted by Learn Me Good. Check it out to hear what people were saying about Education in the blogging world this week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Visiting Queensland

For our Integrated Inquiry in Year 1, we have been taking an imaginary journey around Australia with the characters in the book "Are We There Yet?" by Alison Lester.
This week we moved into QLD. After reading the relevant pages in "Are We There Yet?" we watched a promotional video about the Australian Royal Flying Doctors service and then left a comment on their website. Students contributed their ideas and we linked them together to create a great comment.

We then watched this video about how to crack a whip. The second time through we stood up and pretended to be cracking whips of our own. I realise that this probably seems pointless to many people, but studies have shown that when we imagine/visualise doing something and simulate the situation, our brains process the experience much the same as if we were doing the actual thing. Part of this 'journey' is helping students to link up the activities and places in their minds so that they will remember it all for longer.

We are in the process of creating Great Barrier Reef artworks and later in the week will learn more about the Daintree Rainforest as we read "Where The Forest Meets the Sea" by Jeannie Baker.

Travelling the Top End of NT

For our Integrated Inquiry in Year 1, we have been taking an imaginary journey around Australia with the characters in the book "Are We There Yet?" by Alison Lester.
When we 'travelled' through NT we visited Darwin, Kakadu and Katherine Gorge. In Darwin, we 'went shopping' using local grocery store catalogues. I told students that as we had been travelling for quite some time, our food supplies were running low. Once we reached Darwin, it was a perfect time to do some shopping. Students worked in pairs as they looked through the grocery catalogues and selected items they wanted to buy. They wrote a list of items and costs using $0.00 format. They then used calculators to add up their list and determine the total cost.
We used Flickr photos in slideshow mode as we pretended to go on a 'billabong cruise' in Kakadu. Students snapped photos with their pretend cameras and drew the snapshots into their travel journals. The following day we watched a YouTube video of a Kakadu Billabong Cruise

and also a couple of men fishing for Barramundi in the East Alligator River (just as they do in the book "Are We There Yet?" by Alison Lester). Students pretended to catch the fish and reel it in as they watched the video.

Next we head across to Queensland...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tech Tips Tuesday

I know I said that Tuesday was going to be for tips for parents and teachers about something I am covering with my class, but I've changed my mind! It's going to be too hard to maintain that during the holidays, so instead, I present Tech Tips Tuesday. On Tuesday you can find tips for integrating technology into the class or home.

This week's tip:
If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, consider the free "Easy Relax" application. This application has theme 'soundtracks' that you can play in the background of your class. Themes include 'Into the West', 'Hawaii Vacation', 'Jungle' and a number of pre-programed soundtracks. Alternatively, you can create your own themes with background music and up to three extra sounds with self-selected intervals.
As an award to groups who are focused on their work, I have been allowing them to select a pre-programmed soundtrack or create a team soundtrack. It has been fun, a good behaviour reward and an easy way for students to program their own soundtrack. The soundtrack also adds to the flavour of the class and some students work more quietly just to hear the sound of the rain, thunder, croaking frog, or whatever else!
To amplify it across the classroom, I plug the audio cord that leads to the Smart Board into the audio socket on my iPhone - easy.
As a sidenote, I found it quite nice to fall asleep to one day as well!


Aussie kids seem to love bugs and creepy creatures. A couple of weeks ago, we visited the blog of 2M Gems, to see the class pet praying mantid. We borrowed some books from our library on bugs and insects, and ever since, seem to be finding them in our classroom and playground! Here are a couple that we found lately.

Raising the Flags

Today we had a special flag raising ceremony with our new flags and flagpoles. We all met at the front of the school, sang the anthem and watched as the flags were raised. It was a windy day - perfect for seeing the flags flying.

At our school's 50th Birthday Celebration, earlier in the year, Matilda House (Aunty Matilda) a local Aboriginal elder gave a speech. As part of this, she said that she hoped one day to see the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags hanging side by side with the Australian flag at the front of the school.

Today we saw that happen.