Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Tom Barrett has been putting together collaborative slide shows that are built up of the tools teachers are using in their classrooms, and their tips on how to use them effectively. There are some fantastic suggestions offered, so be sure to check them out. And if you have tried something that hasn't been mentioned, email the details on to Tom so that he can include your suggestions too.
Interesting Ways to use Wordle in The Classroom
Interesting Ways to use your Interactive Whiteboard
Interesting Ways to use Google Earth in The Classroom
Interesting Ways to use Google Docs in The Classroom
Interesting Ways to use Pocket Videos in The Classroom
Interesting Ways to use Twitter in The Classroom
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Last night I sat down at my computer to work out a run that would fit my training requirements for today. It needed to be an 80 minute run - which I estimated to be about 13 kilometers at Penny-pace. I pulled up Map My Run and started marking out a route that one of my friends told me is very pretty, and sure enough, it was a perfect distance. Using Map My Run, I flicked over to the satellite image, as part of the run was through bushland. I tried to lock the images into my mind.
Today I headed off on the run with my iPhone in my pocket. (I love my iPhone). I listened to sermons from the Journey Podcast while I ran and took it at a fairly easy pace. I was doing pretty well until I headed into the bushland and then, of course, I couldn't be certain if I was on the right dirt track headed in the right direction. I pulled out my trusty iPhone and brought up the Maps Application, got it to find my current location, and then brought up the satellite image. Within seconds I could see where I was and find the way to where I wanted to be. I used this a couple of times along the journey to make sure I was still on track.
It felt great to be able to head off and explore a place new to me with the security of the GPS in my phone. I was able to explore without the anxiety of getting lost. And my friend was right - it was a really pretty run.
In terms of teaching, this made me realise how important it is that we provide students with opportunities to explore new things, to feel that exhilaration. And, to do this, we need to make sure we provide them with the tools to guide and encourage them along the way. We need to give them opportunities to problem solve without the anxiety.
What do you think? What have you found helpful in exploring new things and heading out on an adventure?
My husband and I are in the process of purchasing an investment property which is already tenanted. This is our first investment property, and it has been pretty exciting to see everything falling into place. We're looking forward to finalising the settlement in the week ahead.
Health and Fitness
My husband decided he wanted to get into a regular running routine to keep up his fitness. The carrot he began dangling was that he wanted to comfortably run the 10km loop in Central Park when we're there later this year. He suggested that the rest of our travel group jump on board too, and sure enough, I found myself adding yet another commitment to my list of to-dos. Whilst looking for an appropriate training program, I came across the Sydney City 2 Surf one, and decided to give the Intermediate program a go. Then my husband and I decided we might as well run the City 2 Surf this year. Hubby has paid the registration and also registered us for a 1-mile race in NYC. So... I'm back into the running again and actually enjoying it! I've also been trying to diet a little using Shape Up on my iPhone. I wouldn't mind losing just a few kilos and with all the running I'm doing, it's actually not TOO difficult!
In just the last week I started to dabble with crochet. I know... it's a granny hobby. They even call them "granny squares", but I'm enjoying learning something new using YouTube as my teacher. It's actually been really great because you can see the stitches modelled and then pause the video and watch it over and over and over without testing anyone's patience. This is personalised learning at its best! I'm actually keen to learn how to make amigurumi figures as I can see the potential for exploring my creativity with these. I wonder if I'll still be so keen once the new term starts and I'm back at uni again!
I recently had my 31st birthday and my hubby went over-the-top-out-of-his-way to make it a special day for me. The night before he took me out to dinner AND a chick flick (where I even had a choc-top despite my attempts at dieting!). On my birthday night he cooked me THE MOST AMAZING steak complete with home-made jus (that took 2 days to prepare) and DELICIOUS home-made chocolate eclairs for dessert. He didn't mind that I put my pjs on at 4pm and he let me bludge and enjoy the day. It was very relaxing and enjoyable.
The Hot Seat
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Dealing with Disappointment, when I applied for a temporary promotion role in my school and didn't get it. As it turns out, the person who did get it has now been offered a different temporary position outside of my school, so I'll get a chance in the hot seat after all. It will run for the first four weeks of next term. (To be completely honest, I'm kind of glad I didn't get it for the full length of time as the last couple of weeks were hard enough without the extra responsibility.)
I'm really looking forward to the holidays in just over a week. I'm not sure yet how I'll use the time - hopefully to get a little ahead of myself for next term, but also getting enough time in for rejuvenation as well!
Flickr Image: Light Blue Giraffe by amigurmi
Friday, June 26, 2009
Fun This Week
Term 2 Performance
This term while our Fife and Drum students were learning to play Australian songs, the remainder of the group learnt how to perform short plays. The plays we selected were from the book 12 Fabulously Funny Fairy Tale Plays and were the traditional fairy tale stories with a twist. Students were placed in their groups early in the term and had a chance to play a few of the roles in the beginning weeks. Groups then selected the best people for the roles and began rehearsing. Students were responsible for designing their own costumes (using things they already had) and bringing in any props they wanted to use. Mr Tucker organised the making and painting of our backdrop by some of our students. Students were encouraged to memorise their lines unless in the role of narrator. They did a really great job with their performances and it was another fun opportunity to invite parents in to see what they've been working on. We're playing with the idea of dancing next term...
Goodbye Captain Lister
Captain Lister had his final day with us and taught us all about bushrangers in Australia's history. He focused in particular on Ned Kelly and Ben Hall and the people in their gangs. Even the teachers got to act out the roles this time. Mr Tucker willingly took on the role of Ned Kelly. It has been absolutely amazing to have Captain Lister join us each week and we have been very fortunate to learn from his expertise.
Problem Solving with Money
This week in our Maths lessons we focused on a range of problem solving activities involving money. We pulled out the calculators to help us work things out, and it came to my attention that there is still so much that needs to be understood when using calculators. On the first day we were working out the comparative prices of cans of soft drink when bought in multi-packs. Students were able to type in the numbers and operation, but weren't sure what to do with the answer. Many assumed they had got it wrong when a long decimal answer came up. It was a great opportunity to discuss how decimals relate to money. On the second day we used canteen menus from the school canteen and students created their own multiplication problems for others to solve. They then used the "stand up, hand up, pair up, share, trade" method for mingling and working through a number of problems.
Mr Tucker and I were given Thursday as a planning day to determine the things we plan to achieve next term. It was a very productive day for us - we developed a basic plan for all areas of the curriculum and planned out the Integrated Inquiry in detail. We are particularly looking forward to: getting creative with Textiles & Design projects, getting some dance happening, and training the kids up to play Touch Football at a Gala Day (if it's still on this year). While we were busy planning, the kids got to do some fun, new things with the teachers who took our classes.
In all classes across the school this week, students completed a survey about their experiences of bullying at our school. Today, during the peer support session, students watched and discussed the movie A Bug's Life under the guidance of their peer support leaders, while teachers tallied the results from the survey. It will be interesting to see the results of the whole school when they have been compiled.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Last week I began the Microsoft Peer Coaching Training and came up with a plan for how to support teachers in my school. Theoretically, I am supposed to be focusing on the Year 5/6 teachers in preparation for the introduction of the laptop program in coming weeks (or months!), however, I'd also like to help teachers in the other grades to try out some new things. I see some great possibilities given their integrated inquiry units. We've fallen into the pattern of using the World Wide Web as a resource - you know the drill, "Google it, then use it". But I want to help teachers to move beyond that. I want to help teachers to make REAL connections with REAL people and use this to enhance learning. So...
This week's tip: Connect with us!
We're looking for schools, classes and individuals to connect with. I'm going to give you a brief outline of what we hope to achieve, and if you know of anyone doing something similar, or want to connect up with us, please email me, tweet me or leave a comment on this post.
Our Kindergarten students are learning about "6 year olds around the globe". They want to learn what life is like for other kids. Some ideas I'm thinking of for ways to collaborate on this include a Flickr group, a Wiki, or emails between classes. I don't think we're set up for web conferencing yet, or Skype calls, but I could look into it.
Our Year Three students are learning about Australian Geography. They would like to connect with people around Australia maybe via postcards or email, but they're open to suggestions.
Our Year Four students are learning about "Textiles and Design". We hope to learn some of the skills needed for sewing, knitting, crochet and the like. As we teachers aren't so competent in this area (mending is as far as I go!) we are looking for online communities who can help us with this. We will be looking for tutorials on YouTube in the hopes that we will find something there!
Our Year Five/Six students are learning about Australia's relationship with it's nearest neighbours. While this unit will probably lean heavily on the historical and political aspects of our relationships, wouldn't it be nice to give students the opportunity to build some real relationships with other children and play a part in the future relationship between our countries? I'd love to set up student email in ePals in order to build these bridges.
So... do I have any takers? Please spread the word and help me in my quest.
Friday, June 12, 2009
This week Captain Lister visited to teach us about life in the new colony - looking more into the lives of convicts, officers, governors and free settlers. Lots of students got the chance to dress up in costumes and we all sang along to a song about Moreton Bay. Some students were very excited to learn about the Rum Rebellion, so Captain Lister included a special addition just for them.
Students brainstormed events in Australia's history that we've learnt about so far this term. We wrote the dates next to the events and then discussed how to create a timeline to scale. This was a tricky concept that students struggled with a bit, despite having seen timelines on a number of occassions. It is something we will need to work on further.
As the deadline for completion of digital projects was last week, I uploaded the completed ones to our My Classes page. While students ate their lunches we assessed the projects by group vote. We viewed/listened to the projects on the interactive whiteboard and then flicked over to the rubric we agreed on at the beginning of the project. Students voted with their hands as I slid my finger along the rubric continuum. After we've graded them all, I'd like students to have an opportunity to comment on why they chose the mode (PowerPoint presentation, audio file, Museum Box) they did and their reflections on its effectiveness. I'll also give them an opportunity to challenge the grade they were given by the group.
In Maths this week my group worked with flipping, sliding and turning 2D shapes. Students really enjoyed the activities with cutting and pasting shapes to demonstrate flip, slide, turn and also drawing and colouring the alternate versions of different shapes. One thing they need to learn this term is how to define flip, slide and turn, so I made up a little hand action with sayings for them to learn to help them remember. You can see the video of it below:
Exploring Resources with My Classes
I have been uploading resources to our My Classes "Australian History" page. There are a couple of great resources available to us through The Learning Federation, that allow students to experience life on the goldfields through a similation. They got hooked quite quickly and I imagine there will be a few who will check it out again over the weekend.
Skipping (or Jumping Rope)
In a few weeks time we will be having a "Jump Off" to raise money for the Heart Foundation. Students have been able to purchase individual or long ropes from the Heart Foundation so that they can practise skipping. Apart from all the accidental whipping students have copped from walking too close to a swinging rope, it has been a great way for students to keep warm during their recess and lunch break. I even bought one for myself today as I had playground duty and needed a way to keep warm! Students were astonished to see me skipping across the playground while I did my duty.
Like what you read here? Why not read some more Friday Fun posts.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The following post was previously posted in a discussion forum as part of my Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership. The tools mentioned have been mentioned before, but this brings them all together in one place and puts them into perspective.
Education and schooling are in a state of constant change as they try to remain relevant to the needs of a changing world. Schooling of today should not look the same as schooling of 50 years ago, nor 20 years ago, nor even 10 years ago. The Internet has brought people together in ways that no one would have predicted possible. New applications for this technology are being created all the time as people invent and reinvent, build and extend on one another ideas. As minds around the world connect, this online collaboration is creating greater synergy and growth.
Web 2.0 allows people to become contributors of knowledge rather than simply consumers of knowledge. As a teaching professional, my world has been enriched through the development of an online Personal Learning Network (PLN). I maintain my own blog Teaching Challenges and read and comment on blogs of other education professionals. On the 7th of every month I compile a Blog Carnival which outlines great posts submitted to me by educators from worldwide locations. I use Twitter to chat online with other teachers I’ve never met face to face. We talk about teaching and current educational decisions and practices. I also connect with a broad range of teachers through the OZ/NZ Educators Ning and Classroom 2.0. I can bookmark the links I find useful and share these with others using Delicious. At the same time, I can access the bookmarks that other educators have found useful and add these to my teaching toolkit. This sort of knowledge doesn’t fit nicely into a textbook but rather is created by individuals collaborating and sharing their knowledge, resources, experiences and ideas.
When away from my computer, I can use my iPhone to check my email, access the internet and complete the readings for this course. I can watch YouTube videos or TeacherTube videos and listen to podcasts. Every minute of every day I can be accessing information and developing my learning. Most of my learning in the past 6 months has taken place online through internet resources and the connections I’ve made with my PLN.
In terms of my students, developments in technology allow new opportunities for teaching and learning. Interactive Whiteboards are a useful tool for bringing computer applications into everyday use. Online Learning resources can be accessed and used in lessons. Kidspiration, Inspiration and Webspiration can be used to develop thinking and planning through graphic organisers. Students can become “Google Jockeys” researching relevant webpages for students to view during lessons. With My Classes (similar to Moodle but for younger students) I can post information for parents and students, provide games and resources for students to access at home, post photos and videos of student work and even provide homework tips using a webcam or Jing.
Teachers need to be aware of new learning technologies and be open to exploring new possibilities in their classrooms. Schools need to allocate appropriate funding to purchase resources that provide these opportunities to students.
To finish up, watch this video that gives a glimpse of the needs of our students both now and in the future.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Welcome to the June edition of the Teaching K-6 Blog Carnival. The weather is getting colder now, here in Australia, and we're looking for opportunities to cuddle up by the heater with our laptops and search for some good reads. This month offers some great tips for those of us trying to make it through the cold of winter AND also for those in the Northern Hemisphere who are finishing off the school year and preparing for the summer months. This month we have a special category: "Taking it Home", for posts about extending learning into the home.
Brain StrainAs my regular readers are aware, I have been busy working on a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership. My contribution to the carnival this month is my post about the Microsoft Innovative Schools Conference that I attended in early May. Check out some of the links and watch some of the recordings - they're well worth it.
Taking it Home
For those in the Northern Hemisphere who are putting together Summer Packets of work for students to work through during the holidays, you might like to use the suggestions from Meaghan Montrose at TutorFi.com this month. They also make great homework supplements for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere.
In her post Free Tutoring posted at Note from the Teacher, Erin shares tips for parents about ways they can support their children with learning at home. Erin provides practical examples that provide for a more consistent approach to consolidating new learning.
Gripes and Brags
Glowing Face Man presents Teaching With Pronouns posted at Awaken the Badass Within, saying, "An article about why you should make a conscious effort to use less pronouns when teaching."After reading this, I know I'll be paying more attention to my use of pronouns this week!
In the News
In "Hell is the classroom"nightwalker of My English Pages presents some strategies for creating a respectful classroom environment. He emphasises the need to have a preventative approach and outlines how this can be done by teaching with "love and logic".
This month Fiona Lohrenz presents the following two posts at Child Care Only to guide you through Child Care management:
Innovate - Beyond the Slate
At the Teacher's Desk Wm Chamberlain presents Allowing Students to Differentiate with Vocabulary Strategies. Here he and his students share strategies they find useful for learning vocabulary in reading. See how Wm Chamberlain differentiates to meet the needs and hear the students explain for themselves.
Myscha Theriault has got it right when she says that we need the right amount of spelling activities to provide students with variety but at the same time familiarity. This month she shares Spelling Activities: Twenty-Seven Ways to Practice in Style posted at The Lesson Machine Blogazine. She gets the balance right and her ideas can be applied in the classroom with minimal prior preparation.
Mathew Needleman presents Open House Parent Engagement Tips posted at Open Court Resources.com Blog. These tips will help you to think through the reasons parents come to Open House and consider the best way to hold their interest.
Look No Further
Why not submit your post for the next carnival?
The Teaching K-6 Carnival is posted monthly on the 7th. I am collecting submissions throughout the month, looking in particular for posts that discuss and exemplify innovative teaching and the integration of technology in the K-6 classroom. I also invite a few "brain strains" to keep our minds alert and challenged. Please submit only articles of which you are the author and refrain from using this merely as a sales pitch. For full details, please read my call for submissions.
If you have a relevant post that you would like to submit to the next edition of teaching k-6 carnival use our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.
Support this Carnival
If you enjoyed this edition of the carnival, you can support its continuation by sharing it with others. Link to us, add us to a tweet, stumble or digg us. Thanks!
Friday, June 5, 2009
Details of pages 1-30
Summary of Pages 30-70
In these pages we learn more about life on the goldfields and see an increase in the tension between the European and Chinese miners. After a confrontation with one of the Chinese miners who was mining in an abandoned European mine, the European miners drive the Chinese out and they are stranded in the bush, surviving on what plants and bugs they can find. On their return to the goldfields they need to purchase new tools and get themselves set up again. Life continues as normal until again they are forced from their tents.
Reading: The reading part of this unit is done in a variety of ways: teacher reading to the class, students reading to the class, students reading in pairs or independently. While students are reading, I sit alongside them and ask questions and/or make anecdotal notes about fluency/expression/self-correction etc.
Code Breaker: Continue to build the vocabulary chart and discuss new words as they are encountered in the text.
Text User: Consider first-person perspective in historical fiction. Students work in teams to collect information about convicts and their lives from books (20mins). Students sit in a big circle. Each contributes one fact they learnt from their research so that everyone can benefit from their knowledge. Students then begin writing a diary entry from the perspective of a convict.
Text Participant: Students write their names using Chinese script (see lesson here).
Text Analyst: Students discuss the bullying of the Chinese and consider how it would feel to be in their position. Students share own experiences of being burgled. Explain the difference that having insurance makes - in those days they lost everything and had to start from scratch (15 mins). Students then read factual recounts of the treatment of the Chinese on the goldfields. They highlight relevant passages and share this with the class in a discussion (25 mins). Students then work independently to write speeches from the perspective of a Chinese miner or European miner trying to convince the other European miners to stop harrassing the Chinese. Use Jenny Eather's Writing Fun page on Persuasive writing as a guide. On completion, students who wish to can present their speech to the class. (We recorded these with the Flip Mino to share on our My Classes page).
From a Quality Teaching Model perspective, this lesson was great for developing deep knowledge and deep understanding, using higher order thinking, allowing for substantive communication, and improving problematic knowledge through seeing things from the various perspectives.
Fun This Week
Captain Lister Takes Us Back in Time
This week Captain Lister took us back to 1787 and the journey of the First Fleet. He explained how the Industrial Age influenced the lives of people, with machines taking over many people's jobs and people turning to crime in order to survive. He explained about the use of hulks on the River Thames to house the many criminals and Britain's need for a new place to send convicts as a result of the US War of Independence. Captain Lister went on to describe the journey and created discussion around the statistics of people aboard the First Fleet at the beginning and at the end. We finished with the arrival at Botany Bay and the significance of Australia Day.
Sketching the Golden Grove
On Monday afternoon Mr Tucker taught students about the ships of the First Fleet and worked with students to sketch the Golden Grove. He put the image up on the interactive whiteboard so that students could see it clearly to sketch it. You can see it, and the other ships of the First Fleet at the website of the First Fleet Fellowship.
This week my class learnt how to round numbers to the nearest hundred. We used pretend cash register print-outs and students rounded dollar amounts in order to make an estimate. They then used calculators to find out the actual total and to work out the difference between the actual total and their estimate. We also spent some time doubling and halving numbers and students worked with a partner and a mini whiteboard to select numbers and double or halve them. Students who wanted a challenge chose two-digit numbers with each digit odd.
Having played frisbee golf on camp, we set up a quick course for PE this week and students played in small teams. Not everyone got a turn this week because we had a lot of rain, but we hope to get back to it next week.
Indigenous People Group Projects
Students worked to finish their projects this week. As always when working digitally, there were issues with files being overwritten, people wanting to record audio at the last minute, photos with no credit given etc but I'm looking forward to taking a closer look at them and giving students opportunities to explore each others' work.
Fabulously Funny Fairytale Plays
This term students who are not part of the Fife and Drum Band have been learning and preparing plays. This week they worked on memorising their lines and organising themselves on a stage-sized space. We talked with each group about the props and costumes they will need.
Farewell Miss Eschauzier
Today was Miss Eschauzier's last day at our school, so we had a party to send her off. She has worked really hard with the students and has taught them a lot during her internship. They have become very fond of her and will miss her greatly. A couple of students put together a movie with photos and videos for Miss Eschauzier to take with her to remember her time with us. Other students created cards and brought small gifts. Students had the opportunity to tell Miss Eschauzier what they learnt from her and what they enjoyed about her. We then shared party food. We hope she comes back for a visit soon!
This week we my Literacy class read more of New Gold Mountain. You can read about it here.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
One of my goals for this year is to find a way to use ICT as a tool with the Quality Teaching Model (currently being implemented in NSW and the ACT) to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. I do a lot of this automatically, but I want to be able to share these ideas with others. Of course, the success of the lesson is not solely dependent on the actual ICT, so it makes it a little hard to suggest that any one tool or strategy is good for any one of the elements of the Quality Teaching Model. I want to share this journey with you and help you to see that the ICT needs to be embedded in quality teaching and pedagogy and not just used as an add-on.
For example, today ICT wasn't the focus of my lesson, but was definitely a helpful tool in my preparation. My students and I have been reading "New Gold Mountain" by Christopher W Cheng, which is about a Chinese boy, Shu Cheong, who came to Australia to find gold during the goldrush. I want my students to connect with the story personally and to gain a greater respect for Chinese culture as a result. As Shu Cheong is learning to write English words in the book, I thought it might be helpful for students to try writing their names with Chinese characters. In preparation for today's lesson, I downloaded the following videos from You Tube and translated all my students' names into Chinese characters at Chinese Names.org. After reading and discussing a few pages together as a class, we watched the videos to see Chinese calligraphy being created by the experts.
While students were watching, I set out some black ink, brushes and paper on each of the desks. Students then attempted to write their names using the little name strips I'd prepared for them earlier. Also whilst reading, we did a Google search for Cai Shen in our attempt to find out more about one of the gods mentioned in the book. Throughout the book reference is given to Chinese religious beliefs so we wanted to know more in order to understand his perspective more fully.
Quality Teaching Model Coding
For this lesson I will only look at the Intellectual Quality dimension.
The videos helped to provide deep knowledge about the art of calligraphy and the style used by calligraphers. It didn't really provide detailed knowledge about the history of calligraphy, but it did allow students to see calligraphy in action.
Students haven't yet demonstrated a deep understanding of their experience with trying to write in another script. Further discussion would allow me to see whether this activity has helped them to identify with the experiences of the Shu Cheong in the book.
Our discussion during reading touched on metalanguage when we defined some words in the text. To improve this element further, I could have discussed the Chinese script and sought comparisons with the script we use for English (does anyone know what our script is called?).
The videos inspired substantive communication around calligraphy and it's use in both China and Japan. Students shared of their own experiences with calligraphy and together we discussed whether Chinese script should be written horizontally or vertically.
I don't feel that this lesson really allowed for higher order thinking. The lesson was generally teacher-directed and students didn't really ask or answer any questions that required higher order thinking.
The discussion around religious beliefs added a little to the provision for problematic knowledge - where ideas can be shared from a variety of viewpoints - but again, I feel that we explored the ideas of Chinese spirituality, but only touched on other religious viewpoints.
As I hope you can see, it's not the resources that you use that make it quality teaching or not, it's what you do with them and the thinking that results through discussion and careful questioning. I see that I have some work to do to further improve my teaching in these areas!