Friday, 31 December 2010


As anyone who knows me will agree, I am rather partial to a visual.

Lucidchart allows you to make flow charts and other visuals in a quick and easy way.

Here's a great demo video using Hey Jude lyrics...I love this way of showing lyrics.

k-12 Educators can apply for a free licence and that is just what I did here.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Interview and portfolio

Having returned from teaching in Asia to living in Devon, I have an interview date.
Thoughts bubble rapidly to my consciousness...thoughts of portfolios, interview questions, my choice of 20 minute teaching activity, my knowledge of current issues in teaching.

Here is Edge Hill's very helpful guide to interview questions:

This is a good discussion of the pros and cons of portfolios, hosted by TES: (N.B. I think you need to be a member of TES to see this discussion...easy to do and it allows you to access lots of great resources)

Total teaching, gives advice for teachers seeking positions, including a detailed breakdown of the ideal contents of a portfolio.

It is interesting that it is still not current practice to use a blog as a portfolio of work. Maybe there is too much to usefully sift through within the time constraints of an interview. Maybe there is still a place for paper in the context of interview portfolios. gives a number of sites which provide relevant and up to date educational issues. Again, it is not rocket science but it was good to find these sources all in the same place.

Doing too much?

I was sent this article by a friend today and it made me think more about the pace of life we live, breakdown of the nuclear family and all of that kind of stuff.

Formal after school activities are partly the response of society to greater demands on the time of parents who are working hard for long hours, and don't live near the children's grandparents.  Someone needs to look  after the children before they get home from work.  Maybe this is a really middle class view.  Maybe most families don't have both parents working.  Many families are simgle parent families anyway.  I digress.

After school activities could also be seen as a reaction to the idea that we as parents are not doing enough if they leave our children to their own devices after their highly structured school day.  Even when parents are at home, some feel that their time would be better spend doing something which is educational and which involves the intervention of an adult.  Enter the idler.

The Idler suggests that:
We put far too much effort into parenting. If we leave our kids alone, they will become more self-reliant and we’ll be able to lie in bed for longer.
The word idler has many negative connotations today, where the work ethic is often strong and where it is politically correct to stay active, but I think the value of calm unstructured time is well undervalued.

How might it look in 5 years time?
Maybe there will be more play based learning in the classroom...Year 6 children might be working on projects which they have chosen...there might be a cap on the number of hours of after school activities which you are allowed to do...

Food for thought.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

C21 = Thinking + Global + tech?

As I cycled to school with my oldest 2 children today, an autumn chill spread from the handlebars, along my fingertips and up to my knuckles. I would have paid good money for that cool feeling three months ago when I was still in Bangkok, teaching at a large international school.

The new term is well upon us and with it a fresh chance to ponder on what it is all about. I started a group for teachers of children aged 5-11 on curriculum 21 and am emailed when new members join. I keep having to ask myself
"Does C21 just means adding a sprinkling of technology to the recipe of education?"
"Is it really about setting up videoconferencing?"
"Does it mean having a blog and a wiki?"
The easy answer, I suppose, is that any education which prepares children for the future could be said to follow the underlying principles of C21.
"Can the learning process be future proofed though?"
With the pace of change, mastering a particular technology is vital, but of secondary importance to the acquisition of the generic learning skills, using whichever current technologies which are available and are the best for the job. Thinking skills, or Habits of mind, might be a suitable framework.
Art Costa talks about sharing the vision as an essential part of developing Thinking skills, during his NGFL Cymru GCaD address. He is referring to the school wide discussion of shared language concepts and progression which must take place if Habits of Mind are to take firm root in a school. He compares the light from a laser which all travels in the same direction, with the diffused light from a ceiling light.

So, in order to start travelling in the same direction we need to have a shared understanding of terminology. Curriculum21 is a rich multifaceted concept which needs unpicking.

Here's a brief, bald and sketchy starting point.

C21 = Thinking skills + Global + tech

Please add your own C21 equations.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

And one of the ways to be a better teacher...Be less helpful.

Another reason for relying less on textbooks and making learning real.
Get a compelling question which produces a compelling answer.  Develop the problems with students.

Develop patient problem solving.

Start with the visual

To watch the TED talk, click here.

Don't throw away the pencil sharpeners just yet.

Here's a great article on the history and cognitive role of handwriting.

I would hate to live in a world where we were unable to communicate without a keyboard, and keyboard free is also not  future I would enjoy.

We need to straddle both worlds and some of us will lean more on the handwriting side than others.  The question of which to use keyboard skills in school is more about resources, competency at typing and the level of integration of computers within school.

Don't throw away the pencil sharpeners just yet!

Drive with a M.A.P., by Dan Pink

My recent non fiction read has been Dan Pink's Drive.

Motivation is the theme.

He finds that money works when the task is repetitive.
It doesn't wotk when the job required creativity.

The key, says Pink, is:
M - mastery
A - autonomy
P - purpose.

I could write a summary in several pages, but the video is far more entertaining:

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Online Smart board rival?

Virtual manipulatives is a fantastic looking version of smartboard software.  I just looked at the maths software and was really impressed by the easy to use tools, including base ten manipulatives, a set of scales or balance and a simple timer.

I'm sure that smartsoftware has more functions, but is does seem like a good quick and easy alternative.

Go here to try it out.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Cornerstone assessments - Jaye McTighe

This link takes you to a pdf of a set of resources called cornerstone assessments. I had heard of Jaye McTighe and Grant Wiggins and Curriculum by design a while back but recently saw a tweet by D krea_frobro747 .

Content, process, quality and result are the 4 types of performance criteria he uses.

There are some great indicator words they use; for example if you are assessing the process skills then the following adjectives help you to identify how the task has been completed.
followed process
mechanically correct

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Writing for an audience - project based learning

When student work culminates in a genuine product for an authentic audience, it makes a world of difference.

Look here of the article from ASCD about projects and the  Expeditionary Learning Schools.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Project Based learning

This video is a great example of PBL. It comes from the Buck Institute.
It includes segments showing the planning stages and exemplifies how PBL should have a real purpose.
Here, the curriculum does not seem to be a rigid force which has to be manipulated, rather the project presents reasons for the skills and knowledge to be learnt.

Do the teachers keep track of what has been learned?
Do teachers make notes of who contributed, who succeeded and who worked the hardest?
Does this school ONLY use PBL?

The real life context of the learning provides the motivation...decisions which the children take will have a real effect on their surroundings and way of life:

The influence of contextual factors on cognition has also engendered a good deal of
research and has, according to the citations in PBL research, had an important influence on the
authenticity and autonomy elements of Project-Based Learning. According to research on
"situated cognition," learning is maximized if the context for learning resembles the real-life
context in which the to-be-learned material will be used; learning is minimized if the context in
which learning occurs is dissimilar to the context in which the learning will be used (Brown,Collins & Duguid, 1989).

March, 2000, )

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Flat Classroom projects

See the Coolcatteacher blog for details of the flatclassroom project videos. Here's one which takes snapshots of communication technology development:

Find more videos

like this on Flat Classroom Project

Here's another on a similar subject:

Find more videos like this on Flat Classroom Project

Great tech skills...Were these skills taught in school?
If they were, what does the curriculum look like?

Saturday, 3 April 2010


I thought it was time to think more about how I blog in class and how children should learn to use guidelines to write blogs posts and comment academically rather than socially.  We have talked about being careful when posting comments and e-safety but I have only just started to formalise these into written rules.

The langwitches blog was a great starting point, having this document which is aimed directly at elementary school.

Here are the blogging guidelines from that document, which I have now incorporated into my classroom blog:
• Never publish online the following information:
o Address
o Last Name
o Password
o Phone Number
o E-mail address
o Detailed physical description
o Detailed location where you can be found on a given day and time
o Photos of yourself
• Never share your user name or password with anyone besides your teachers and parents.
Never log in as someone else.
• Think before you post: Make sure what you write is appropriate to put online.
• Always tell the truth on your posts and comments.
• Be cautious about email messages from anyone, asking you for detailed personal
information or attempting to arrange secret meetings. Talk with your teacher and parents
immediately if this kind of situation arises.
• Online work is NOT private. Never say anything via email, chat, blogs, or on wikis that
you wouldn’t mind seeing on the school bulletin board, or in the local newspaper. Make
sure you can be proud of your online work and it would not embarrass you if your
grandmother or teachers read it.
• Capital letters are regarded as “SHOUTING.” Don’t be offensive, and don’t ever use bad
• Never use a computer to harm other people. Never snoop around in other people’s files.
Never use a computer to steal.

Here is Silvia's slideshare of a Blogging in the Classroom from 2010:

Blogging in the classroom
View more presentations from Silvia Tolisano.

I wonder when these skills will explicity be taught in ICT in my school?
I wonder when children in my school will start to make their own blogs during school time? (I know 8 and 9 year olds who are doing this at home)

Vocab Grabber

This site allows you to paste in text and gives you a wordle like cloud of word frequencies.

You can also click on the words from the cloud and this puts them in the centre of a word web of various definitions.

I like the look of it and would like it as a widget on the class blog.

Have a look here.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Making the web come to you - RSS

During a parent conference yesterday it was really nice to hear a parent say "When are you going to send us an email with updates and links to what's been going on in the classroom?"

It made me realise that many of the parents in my class rely on emails coming to them. They are very busy and need information delivered to them.

I replied "Have you heard of RSS feeds? They would be really helpful for you."

I think I might need to run a parent training session on these.

Before I get around to doing that, here's a youtube clip, which is quite old in internet terms (2007) which explains how you use RSS feeds to make life simpler by making blogs and news sites come to you.

Monday, 29 March 2010

21st C Literacies

This video is of a talk given by Howard Rheingold about participative learning using today's technology.  It was part of Reboot Britain .
He talks about 5 literacies:
attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Blogging as a tool for the 21st Century

I have just joined a ning...called curriculum 21

This was minutes after I learned what a ning is!

I think it's a bit like a wiki, a collaborative website with other added extras.

Anyway, I joined the ning and then made a group for teachers with children aged 5-11.

I was thrilled only one day later when 2 new members joined. Silvia Tolisano was one of the new members, author of langwitches blog.

Here's a very comprehensice slideshow about how to blog in the classroom. It's taken from her Langwitches wiki

Friday, 26 March 2010

Smile day!

What a great picure, taken at school yesterday. Loads of fun, people making fools of themselves, children participating by bringing in costumepieces and all for the good cause of Operation Smile.

Just started a ning group! How exciting!

My last post looked at 21st C learning. I went to the site and saw a gap in the market...maybe for good the 5-11 age range.

I started a group to find out what others are doing with participative learning technology (like wikis) .

Please have a look and contribute.

21st Century Learning

Alan November talks about the gap between what we teach and what children need to survive in the real world:
  1. we do not teach children to cope with overwhelming amounts of information
  2. every classroom should be a global communication centre
  3. we have to stop spoonfeeding learning, learneres should learn to be lifelong learners

There is a shift of control from the teacher managing learning to a culture of interdependent students who contribute content to the whole classroom.

Find more videos like this on Curriculum21

We are trying to do this in 3w, through blog comments and more particularly through our class wiki. Powerpoints made by students and stories written by members of the class provide models entertainment and inspiration for others.

A move towards more student led research clearly follows the direction of Alan's words. This is also becoming more common in my school along with a swing back to more connected learning through planning which is thematically based.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Ebook eye-ache

Stumbled onto this ebook, which made me think more about creativity but gave me another more pressing, physical realisation too.

The references to Daniel Pink's ideas on creativity were a timely reminder. It also made me think about the restrictions on creativity which we often feel when planning and teaching. I was talking today with colleagues about planning in a more creative topic based way and how the imminent UK election may have a direct impact on the approach to teaching in the near future. Will there be a continued swing towards a more connected approach to planning in which learning has more opportunities to be put into a bigger picture? Or will there be a return to "segmented" learning in which the value of joined up contextual thinking is ignored at worst or halfheartedly encouraged?

The more pressing, physical realisation was that my netbook's screen is ridiculously small and ebooks don't work on it! Better get onto the PC and read the ebook properly.

Having done that, I realise that I like ebooks! If you haven't tried one, then you might be in for a pleasant surprise. I like being able to turn the pages, loved having music played to me if I wanted, enjoyed the ability to view connected videos (although some of the links were broken) . It sounds similar to any old web page, but it was in a bookish format which I liked.

Maybe I might get a kindle some time in the future.

Myebook - Creativity in the Classroom - click here to open my ebook

Monday, 22 March 2010


When I found this site, I was again amazed by the proliferation in web applications.

This site contains, amongst others, SafeShare TV and Quiet Tube which are excellent ways of taking the unwanted ads away from useful youtube video clips.

Librophile looks interesting - a search engine for audiobooks.

Another site I discovered in Larry Ferlazzo's site is citebite. This is a simple site which generates a unique page reference in which your selection of text is highlighted. There is no login. It is similar to the highlight function of diigo without the sign in. A great idea for directing learners to particular swathes of text.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Google search spiders!

Thanks to Richard Byrne from Free technology for Teachers for this clip which explains how google searches for things.

It cleared up what an index is, and gives a few ideas about how to make your website appear more in google searches.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Skype Grannies

Retired teachers are skyping children in India, reading them stories, according to the Guardian.
Last year in Education Guardian Professor Sugata Mitra appealed for volunteers in the UK to read stories over the internet to children in Hyderabad. "When I last visited India, I asked the children what they would most like to use Skype [the internet telephone service] for. Surprisingly, they said they wanted British grandmothers to read them fairytales – they'd even worked out that between them they could afford to pay £1 a week out of their own money," Mitra said.

In the future, Mitra wants to create a "cloud" of working and retired teachers as a resource for children all around the world to tap into. He has teamed up with distance-learning company ICS and, in India, hundreds of children are now learning from "Skype grannies".

He is now looking for experienced maths and science teachers to work with students in Hyderabad.

What a great way to use the skills of retired teachers.

This post is the first I have written by using scribefire, a firefox addon which allows you to blog within the firefox browser.  So far, so good.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Enquiry in School

Last year when Michelle, Anthony, Anne, Colin, John, Jackie and I met up we decided to work find out about Project based learning and Enquiry.

Here is Colin's review of the literature and good practice.
He kindly said I could publish it here.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

New web 2 teaching book

There are some great teaching ideas and examples of good practice here in Terry Freedman's ebook.

Download here.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Curiosity - cat killer or memory booster?

Thanks to barkingupthewrongtree for this post about the benefits of curiosity on memory. In this post, hand gestures are linked with memory retention, with a greater influence on memory than a spoken instructional phrase...

So, get physical and get children to incorporate hand gestures to aid memory.
Add curiosity by introducing learning in a novel way.
This links to the thrust of what Paul Ginnis was supporting about using varied teaching styles to maintain interest and provide for learners who favour a particular type of learning style.

Getting them to parwikipate!

I was contacted by The Smarties recently. The Australian class is setting up a wiki to learn about how Easter is celebrated around the World.

I'm interested in finding out how The Smarties going to update their wiki? Is it going to be done by the children using teacher logins or will they set up accounts for children?

I'm experimenting with giving my class their own passwords for a wiki I set up this week, but so far it's early days and most children have not really started contributing. We are using it to research questions we have about our history topic (the Egyptians) and our science topic (rocks and soils).

We are finding answers to our own questions which I hope will personalise learning. Theoretically the outcomes of the learning should be geared to the interests of the students. If it works well then it will allow 3W to demonstrate their understanding. There is also a huge social element which I am starting to glimpse. Some children will participate fully, some might be persuaded to follow along and others will, I'm sure, not make any posts or edits to the wiki.

I read Steve Wheeler's post about loafing and lurking. I anticipate that if I use collaborative learning tools more in my teaching, that I will need to think long and hard about how to encourage participation. It always seems to come down to motivation.

Steve also mentioned the risky nature of posting to a wiki, where edits can slash carefully written sentences and confidence could crumble.

Here's a link to a wiki of educational wikis, suggested by The Smarties.

It's the start of a long journey.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Who is reading my blog? Where are they coming from?

Larry Ferlazzo's recent post mentions ways to keep aware of where traffic is coming from to get to your blog or website. He also gives ways to make sure your links are up to date.

I followed his link to Sue Waters' Edublog in which she gives great instructions on how to interpret the complexities of using google analytics.

I have used this google site for a while and have seen the effect on readership of emails to parents. I'm only just beginning to see the potential of the analytics site.

Very helpful.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Headmagnet claims to be a site that helps you learn and remember facts and faces?

Thanks to freetechnologyforteachers for the tip

This site needs a sign up.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Reading and Oprah

Here are 2 video clips, one of a 21000 strong audience dancing to the Black Eyed need to see this one first.

The next one is a fantastic advert for reading and books.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for these tips.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Make your own Newspaper article

I have seen this newspaper clip generating site before, but thought I'd mention it again.

It's a great format for teaching report writing in your literacy lesson.

Virginia Rojas, in here recent visit to school, suggested giving learners a RAFT to help them.

R - Role
A - Audience
F - Format
T - Topic

Children could use this RAFT format to give them "supported choice" to present their learning in a way which suits them. Here are some "cRAFTy" links:
Raft Strategy
More RAFT, with supporting rubrics and examples

The newspaper clip generator provides another Format to add to the mix.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Devil is in the Detail!

Here are the photos from the visit by Paul and Sharon Ginnis.

Paul's photos are from the dramatisation of the fertilisation of an egg...see earlier video post. Paul's book,Teacher's Toolkit: Raise Classroom Achievement with Strategies for Every Learner, includes this and many other strategies which I have only just dipped into. The ones I have tried are very rich in learning, but as Paul always said, "the devil is in the detail".

Sharon's session was based on using artefacts, drawing, model making and music to engage with stories. The story we used was the incredible shrinking machine. This can be found in her book, Covering the Curriculum with Stories: Six Cross-curricular Projects That Teach Literacy and Thinking Through Dramatic Play.

Here is a newsletter, from Derby City Council, which mentions some of the strategies, some examples of some of the type of learning activities promoted by Paul and some links.

No fun allowed!

Thanks to Steve Wheeler's blog, for this inspired image!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

CV, Letter of Application or personal statement

With my move back to Britain being imminent, I am CV writing and sniffing out teaching posts.

As well as asking colleagues for a peak at their letters and CVs I've been looking online and have found some useful resources:

A whole batch of TES documents

What to include:
Teacherworld - lists common contents of CVs and the importance of person specifications and job descriptions.
NASUWT - page of CV tips - aimed at NQTs but with some good advice

Finding the jobs:
NASUWT - Local Authority Contact details


More to come later...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Maths - GTC research - three simple steps to success

A report from the GTC (General Teaching Council) recently showed three factors which can significantly lead towards success in maths.

These include:

  • viewing mistakes as positive – identifying them and using them in subsequent discussions;
  • allowing students to develop and justify their own varied methods;
  • encouraging students to set each other problems to solve.

The research concluded that student-centred, collaborative and discussion based approaches to learning were more effective than more traditional transmission methods, especially in the development of conceptual understanding of mathematics.

Nothing too new or earth shattering, but quite reassuring.

Friday, 19 February 2010

What's the point of school? Guy Claxton

This is a great book which prompts lots of thinking!

I read it over the half term break after hearing about the author from Anne (she went to see Guy Claxton when he was in Phuket) and Paul Ginnis (see previous post).

It is an inspirational book which asks the reader to think carefully about how schools are (or aren't) preparing children for life after school.

For me the main messages were the magnificent 8, as well as the importance of modelling being a fallible, eager, curious learner. Thanks to Bruce Hammonds blog, leading and learning for his summary which I have included below:

1 Powerful learners are curious. They are born curious and are drawn to learning. They wonder about things, and know how to ask productive questions. They enjoy the process of wondering and questioning. Curious people, however, can be demanding and skeptical of what they're told.

2. Confidant learners have courage. They are not afraid of uncertainty and complexity. They have the confidence to say, 'I don't know?' - which is always a precursor to, 'lets find out'. They are willing to take risks and try new things. They 'stick' with things and 'bounce back' when things go wrong. They also know when to give up. They have 'mental toughness' or resilience.

3 Powerful learners are good at exploration and investigation they like finding out and are good at seeking and gathering information. They take the time to attend carefully and do not jump to conclusions. They are good at 'sifting' ideas and trust their ability to tell 'good evidence'.

4 Powerful learners requires experimentation. This is the virtue of trying things out to see if it works, or just to see what happens. They make mistakes, keeping what works for 'next time'. They like adjusting things, enjoy admiring their work in progress, and seeing how they can continually improve things. They say, 'lets try'...and, 'what if?' And they also know the importance of practice.

5 Powerful learners have imagination. They know how to use their 'inner world' to explore possibilities. They know how to make use of 'mental rehearsals' of how they might act.They also know how to relax and let idea come to them, finding links and connections ; they have a good feeling of 'rightness'.

6 The creativity of imagination needs to yoked to discipline. They have the ability to think carefully, rigorously and methodically. They are good at 'hard thinking' and ask, 'how come'? They are good at creating explanations, making plans, crafting ideas, and making predictions based on their evidence. They are also open to serendipity and to changing their minds if necessary.

7 Powerful learners know the virtue of sociability. They are happy collaborating and sharing their ideas and resources. They are good members of groups able to help groups solve problems. They are able to both give their views, receive feedback, and listen respectfully to others.8 Powerful learners are reflective. They are able to step back and take stock of progress. They are able to mull over their actions and consider how they might have done things differently. Good learners are self aware, able to contemplate their actions to continually 'grow their learning power'.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Double Whammy with Paul Ginnis

A Saturday course today with Paul Ginnis. He's a great presenter, mixing a blend of theory and in-school evidence backed up by lots of photos. I had seen him almost 2 years ago at NIST.

The double whammy is content and metalearning...his idea is that learning could/should contain both.

Varied approaches to learning, catering for many learning styles, were included in the session. See video below of a re-enactment of the moment of conception. Note the wiggling sperm and the fiercely defensive ovule cell membrane!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Maths assessment at Year 3

In our year group we were talking about how we could best assess children's maths progress and attainment throughout year.  We know what many children are good at, can give next steps and are good at this kind of assessment.  This is the bread and butter of teaching.

It is the big picture/national curriculum level description which is hard to judge for me and many other teachers.

Different strands of maths have different weightings or importance in the maths levels, surely?  How can we judge children's levels if we are unclear about how much importance should be given to each strand?

The APP suggests a solution, but seems to be unwieldy and a huge marking burden.  It is suggested to be used on a sample basis, but how does that inform your judgement of the cohort as a whole?

Here are some things I stumbled on:

curriculum map for Y3 from South Gloucester

simple selection of level descriptors for maths from learninglive

various uninvestigated maths assessment links from the shambles site

I feel I have been trying to figure this one out for many years.

At my last school I tried using key objective lists which were organised by year group...this could then be used to infer a level.

Does anyone have any answers?

Are there any online maths assessments out there? Are there any which are free?  How do these weight the strands of maths?

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Prezi - presentation software education version

I first saw Prezi at a Debating workshop run by Ben is a visual and dynamic presentation tool.

Here's an example of a Prezi, taken from the prezi site. This one is by a lady called Annette Evans:

I've just signed up and will be having a play.

Look here for the freetechnologyforteachers blog review.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Editing the size of video in your blog

Freetechnology for teachers brings you a step by step guide to resize video so that it fits your blog.

Go here to find out how

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Book review: Reinventing Project Based Learning, Boss and Krauss, ISTE

This book looks at mainly technology driven project based, cross curricular learning.

The part that I am reading at the moment talks about possible pitfalls:

  • Long on activity, short on learning outcomes
  • Technology layered over traditional practice – internet research then powerpoint is not a quality project.

  • Trivial Thematic units – really this points at theme based learning not necessarily being project based. What this means , I think, is that it does not naturally hang together as a cohesive mass of learning. I know from experience that sometimes it isn't possible to make a project that includes all of the elements you need to cover, if you are curriculum led. Some themes can be effective – year long themes such as:
    • change,
    • survival,
    • justice...
    • another one which came to my mind was the theme of connections...this crops up more and more with me in my classroom.
  • Over scripted with many many steps – this will lead to learning which looks very much the same – again,, I think that sometimes you need to have learning which looks the same. PBL is not always the best way of learning or teaching for every student (I can think of many students for whom the lack of structure is at best confusing and at worst, terrifying). Educating children to have the confidence, resilience and persistence to tackle open ended projects is the challenge which faces teachers.


Chapter 4, p65

Best projects:

  • Are loosely designed with multiple learning paths
  • Are generative, causing students to construct meaning
  • Have a driving question
  • Capture student interest (compelling reallife or simulated experiences)
  • Are realistic and multidisciplinary
  • Involve others outside school – this really lends itself to blogging/wikis
  • Tap into rich data or primary sources
  • Enable students to learn from each other
  • Promote enquiry
  • Incorporate 21st century skills such as communication, project management and technology – didn't we do these things in the 20th century as well? I must find out what that phrase is commonly meant to mean
  • Encourage/rely on key learning dispositions such as persistence, risk-taking, confidence, self reflection and cooperation.

  • Make students learn by doing...maybe we should rename schools as Doing.

Chapter 8, Building connections and branching out
One section focuses on parents as a bank of experts. One such connection (Kathy Cassidy)was with preservice teachers.  This made me wonder how technology is being taught at PGCE courses in UK.

Are students at University of West of England, where I graduated, being taught about either PBL or 21st Century skills?  Is their training to mine, 15 years ago? Kathy Cassidy has a great site dedicated to primary web 2.0...I've been looking for an age specific site for a while ...this is a wiki and has some interesting wiki links for sifferent areas of the primary class.  Great to see them in action rather than just some ideas about how they could be used.  Here's one - a choose your own adventure about a tennis ball, which was written collaboratively.
I like the idea of linking up with preservice teachers.  A pool of interested, knowledgable adults mixing with a pool of children writers.
I stumbled, via the Kathy Cassidy link, onto Dr Strange, who teaches an Ed Tech based course (here's a link to becoming great at using twitter in 15 minutes a day) and has lots of online conversations here.  He mentions MrC, a teacher whose blog I follow.  
It made me think about how closely connected our blog/web connections are.

Things I want to look at:

PBL schools in SW England

PYP schools in UK

Flat classroom


Sites I have looked at:

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Using flash animation from other sites on your smartboard slides.

Capturing Flash animations for your Smartboard slides

Now we’re into the real fancy stuff. Many of the websites that you will visit will have some fancy FLASH games on them that you will add to your favourites and will have all lined up to use in a lesson, when suddenly the network goes down. Well this is how to “borrow” those fancy FLASH games and have them stored on smartboard slides, ready to use and play and NO internet connection required!!
1. Open up a smartboard file
2. Open up the internet link and game you wish to “borrow” it is important that you do start the game, but you don’t have to play the whole thing!
3. Now click on the tools button (bottom right hand side of your tool bar) and choose internet options from the drop down list
4. Under browsing history choose settings
5. Choose view files from the next window that opens
6. You will be greeted with all the files you have viewed, massive list, to quickly find the shockwave flash file that you want to “borrow” sort the files using the “Last Accessed” button, press it twice that way it will put the most recent at the top
7. Hopefully you will see a file on the left that ends with .swf (this stands for shockwaveflash)
8. Click and drag the icon down to the bottom of your screen and onto your blank smartbook file.
9. The game should appear! Simply change the size to fill the screen or annotate around it then save it in your gallery or wherever you save your files!

This does not work 100% of the time, sometimes errors are thrown up, but you can’t expect perfection all the time can you!

Thanks to Andy for these notes to his smartboard course.

Friday, 8 January 2010

They Need their teachers to learn

Below is a video which promotes teachers learning new technology.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Other class blogs...look here for some links

Thanks to edublogger for providing this growing list of class blogs.

I looked for some classes which were about the same age and quickly came up with a NZ school with a really interesting site.  I commented on a couple of their posts and hopefully they will look at our blog.

This is the simple way I am starting to link up learning.  I tried twitter earlier this year, but found that it was too unwieldy.  Selecting the right people to follow was tricky and I didn't feel I could monitor the tweets unless I spent an unmanageable amount of time online.

I still need to get a manageable way to encourage children to post more on the blog...