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 reasons...in 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 Peas...you 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...