Skype Education

I remember when I was in secondary school we had this assignment that we had to do over email with a student from one of our sister schools in the USA. I don’t know how effective it was but it was a great way to find out the similarities and differences between our cultures, education etc. I was thinking about this and thinking that now (12 years later) technology is SO much more advanced and skype is such an amazing thing and how great it would be to incorporate this into education… so using my great mate Google I simply googled Skype and Education to see if it had been used before…. it is here I discovered the amazing world of Skype Education.

Their website describes it as follows:

“Skype in the classroom is a free global community that invites teachers to collaborate on classroom projects where they might use Skype, and share skills and inspiration around specific teaching needs. ”

You can set up global projects with a teacher at a distance and get your students to participate in what they call “cultural exchange” where they can work with an international partner to complete a project. You could incorporate so many different learning areas, kids could give the other one instructions to draw a map, they could write something collaboratively incorporating literacy, history, geography, civics, science…. the possibilities are endless. The GREATEST thing is, you don’t have to think up the ideas yourself because as an online community there are already heaps of great minds online that have tried and tested some great projects.

If you go to the ABOUT page then there’s some tutorial videos and some sucess stories!

What sort of projects could you think of to set for your potential class to complete with an international skype buddy class?

Do you think it would work?

 

Mathletics

I’m currently doing my teaching placement in a prep class, one of their maths activities is mathletics. I watched some of the kids on it today and was talking to the teacher about it. The whole program looks good, especially as a practice for kids at home so their parents can see the types of things they need to practise etc but I question it’s effectiveness in the classroom. As an “educational software tool” the teacher has the ability to log in and moderate the kids accounts including setting projects, tasks etc for them. However the teacher only gets “correct or incorrect” results, not the actual mistakes that the kids have made. This may be effective in older years but in prep when the problems are things like kids writing 01 instead of 10 for activities where they’re supposed to count things… the computer program is going to suggest the student has problems with counting but that’s not actually their problem.

I have a feeling there is so much emphasis on bringing computers and technology into classrooms and yes, they have a place but how effective is it for kids to spend 1/2 an hour on mathletics when they get their numbers back-to-front?

Has anyone else got any comments about mathletics or any other programs they’ve seen used partically in early years classrooms? I’m interested to know how they’re used and what you guys think!!

Pixton Comics

I joined an edmodo community called pixton click-n-drag comics. They have a specialised pixton comics for schools which I talked really briefly about on Edmodo but I decided to see if they just had a general Pixton comics website without the school thing that you have to pay for. I went to www.pixton.com and signed up for a free account. It’s AMAZING how awesome these comics are, you can move every joint of your character to make them have the exact body language you want! I played around for a bit and created a comic about how I was feeling this morning when I looked at all the work I had to catch up on, I hope you enjoy it.

I already spoke about the education experiences that giving kids the opportunity to create a comic in this way would have so I will do a general PMI for this sort of program… feel free to add anything you think, I love to hear others opinions!

 

Plus Minus Interesting
It’s another way for students to express their writing

It’s a way for students who may find it difficult to express their feelings

You can use it across the board for different subject areas

You can use it for ALL ages

Students can create their comics at home and print them out or imbed them in their blogs

Free

Some of the great features you need to pay for

Students could spend/waste a LOT of time editing their characters and lose the educational focus

The educational one seems to have lots of great opportunites for students to be set assignments and have access to the marking rubrics etc but this needs a lisence paid for by the school.

There are so many different characters you can create

You can literally move every joint on the characters so they are positioned exactly how you want.

They also have preset positions that you can choose as well as present facial expressions.

You can save the characters you make and use them in future comics

Feel free to add anything other comments you guys have about this sort of tool!

Educational Paradigms

I feel compelled to share this video with you, I’ve watched it so many times and I just love it. It questions todays education and how all over the world we are trying to change education… It’s a speech by a Sir Ken Robinson who I’ve never heard of but according to his website he is “an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation”. So maybe I should know who he is. The talk is really goood and this clip also shows some animations done by RSA Animate who but the whole thing into an amazing flowchart/concept map/image so you get the main points. It just intrigues me and it talks about the history of our current education system and how it should be changed for kids today. A must watch for all educators!!

What do you guys think about it?
How does it make you feel as a person who has been through/is going through this system of education?
How does it make you feel as a prospective educator facing these “paradigms”?
What questions does it cause you to ask?
Does it answer anything you didn’t know before?

An interesting way to create your own interactive whiteboard

Hey guys, check out this video, something worth keeping in the back of your mind if you want to utilise the awesome capabilities of smartboards but your classroom doesn’t have one. You may have to be quite creative and slightly techno savvy.

 

The advantages of thise home made system is that it’s a multitouch system, you could potentially have two, three or four kids writing on the board at the same time. This is one of the biggest disadvantages I’ve seen with the smartboard and other commercial products, it’s a one at a time piece of equipment.

I’d love to hear if any of you actually try this out, I might try it out when I have some spare time after semester is over. The full instructions and all the software you need are available on Johnny Chung Lee’s website it looks like he’s really broken it down so even “dumb teachers” can give it a go!

Just something I found interesting that I thought I’d share with you.

Special thanks to my friend Leanne Ly who told me about this at uni the other day!

Interactive Whiteboards

I’m one of those crazy computer nerds, I like to have the latest gadgets and know how to use them, I am a typical female though and I like to read the instructions instead of just playing around with it, I find that you can then use the gadget to it’s full potential. One of the latest educational gadgets that seem to be everywhere are smartboards, however in my experience Teachers just don’t know how to use them properly so they don’t use them to their full extent. Over the mid semester break I went into uni from some free P.D’s on using smartboards, although some of the sessions were a bit boring (what colours should I use) it was overall amazing. It started with the real basics… how to calibrate the smartboard, how to turn it on and off, what the little buttons do, how the pens work etc.

The company that ran this PD was called Interactivewhiteboard.net and they run free PD’s for schools, I think Deakin was the first uni to host the set of PD’s but they have a list of the days they’re running so if you missed out I highly recommend you see if you can get along to one, I’ve been told by teachers that it’s so hard to get to these things in your own time once you’re out there working unless the school gives you the time release etc.

Also, for those of you who want to play around with them you can download a copy of the SmartBoard software from the Deakin website (you have to be staff or student)  here so you can play around with it and create great lessons for your placement.

The interactivewhiteboard.net website also has a HEAP of sample lessons that they’ve created, as a wise tutor once told me “there’s no need to recreate the wheel” so my advice is, download the smartboard software free from Deakin and then try some of them out. Also, definitely get down to one of those PD’s, it’ll be great for your CV and just for your own confidence.

Oh yeah… I forgot to mention, as well as sample lessons, if you go into Notebook Lessons>Notebook Gallery interactivewhiteboard.net have got a whole bunch of Australian specific content that’s great, Aus animals, Australian Currency etc so that you don’t have to find it yourself, you just download their whole folder of stuff and it’s in your smartboard library.

Smartboards have amazing potential in the classroom, especially in our new age of enquiry based learning, you really do get to have the kids getting hands on and sharing their knowledge!

Quiz

Click here for larger version

I have found a great website where you can make customised games for your classroom. I made a sample one on Australian geography, it’s pretty awesome and I think there’d be a wide variety of uses. This is not the only template they have there’s heaps.

I found this at a website called classtools.net and there’s a you tube video at the bottom of the screen that shows you how to customise your own game.

Basically for this game I just came up with 10 questions and input them into a box and then the program generated the game for me.

The positives to this type of tool, especially the one hosted by this website are:

It’s free and I didn’t have to sign up for anything

They gave me the coding to imbed it in my blog but they also gave me a website address so you could give that to kids to just type in to their browser

You can have as many questions as you like

The negatives:

As far as I can see it’s all multiple choice I haven’t seen a game where the “player” has to actually type in the answer so it could just be a lot of guessing

Uses in the classroom:

You could create these games and give them to kids as revision for homework, possibly something they would be willing to do/find fun.

You could use it as early finishers rewards/tasks

You could get the kids to create their own games for each other, giving them a bit of control over their learning and revision, also thinking of good questions is a good way for some kids to revise (like myself)

You could use this to assess what kids already know before studying a topic.

Have a play around with it, it’d be great to see everyone else create some games that we can share. Watch the video provided on the website and it’s really easy.

Oh yeah, for those of you who don’t know how, if you want to imbed it in your blog you have to copy the coding (all the mumbo jumbo that will start with <p align=….) and then you have to make sure you click on HTML on the top right of the box you usually type into your blog…. copy the code into that, and then you can go back to visual and type normally underneath.

I hope you guys find this useful, and maybe even use it on placement!!

Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear more positives, negatives and uses in and out of the classroom.

A little bit about me and my experiences so far…

Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog post ever!

I’m not really sure what I should write so I’ll tell you a little bit about me and my experience studying primary teaching!

My name is Liz, I’m 26 and I live in East St Kilda. I have a massive family, a lot of them are teachers so that probably had a great deal to do with me finally choosing education for my career.

I went to catholic schools my whole life and after I finished secondary school in 2003 I went on a “gap” year with an organisation who were called gap, (now known as lattitude http://www.lattitude.org.au/) where I spent 9 months volunteering with people with disabilities. It was the most amazing experience of my life, I was faced with so many things that I’d never even thought of in my sheltered 18 years of existence, I had 4 “families” that I supported all with completely different needs:

Every thursday morning I would go and sit with a little old lady who suffered from macular degeneration (basically her sight had gone as she got old), she lived with her best friend who was her sole carer and I spent 4 hours there while the friend went into town to do their weekly shop. The poor lady was severley depressed because of her blindness, and she also suffered from alzeimers and forgot that I was there.

Once or twice a week I would visit Thomas, he was 10 and autistic, Thomas was gorgeous and sweet but very demanding, his mother had suffered from a break down earlier in the year and lost all her hair because of how full on Thomas was. My job was just to give his poor mum a break, and an opportunity to spend some time with his younger brother Jamie. I would usually take Thomas swimming which he loved, but he didn’t like noise so he’d hide in the corner of the swimming pool and tap the water. Thomas was obsessed with tapping, he also loved to be tickled, we’d often spend hours sitting on their hammock and he’d make me tickle his arms! Thomas loved eating, so much so that he even once ate the registration patch for his mum’s car.

Every weekend I’d spend a day with Charles, he was 12 and his family were pretty wealthy. Poor Charles was proof that money isn’t everything, he was born completely normal and healthy, he’d run around and play with his younger sister until he was about 5 or 6 when he started detiriorating. Charles suffered from a neurological degenerative disease, when I met him he couldn’t bare his own weight, he was blind and his only response to anything, pain, pleasure etc was laughter. Charles’ parents had tried everything, they’d taken him overseas to different specialists, herbalists, chinese medicine men in china, witch doctors in africa yet they had no real diagnosis and no cure, he was just getting worse and worse. Charles went to a special school but his Mum was frustrated because they treated Charles like he was intellectually delayed, reading him baby books and singing nursery rhymes with him, his Mum was adament (and after I got to know Charles I agreed) that Charles had the mental capacity of a normal 12 year old boy, his laughter was out of boredom when read a baby book but out of intrigue and excitement when you read Harry Potter to him.

I spent time with a boy called Cristian, he was 5 and had Cerebral palsy. Cristian started school towards the end of my year in the UK and that was one of the biggest struggles I have ever witnessed. Cristian was still in nappies, he only spoke about 5 words and you had to hold his hand tight when you went out in public. There was a massive amount of issues in that family, domestic violence etc and Cristians father did not want his son to go to a “special” school so demanded that the local public school accomodate for his needs. He started school and had an aid, however the teachers or aid didn’t change his nappy and Cristian wasn’t being stimulated enough, it seemed he was left to his own devices in the back of the classroom because although the school had been renovated over the summer holidays so there was a change room for him, it just wasn’t possible to accomodate for his mental and academic needs in the mainstream classroom.

The last family who I only spent a little bit of time with had twin 2 yr old girls, the girls were healthy and well but their Mother had become legally blind as a complication from giving birth. I didn’t visit them very often, I feel terrible because I can’t even remember their names off the top of my head but it was such a sad case, the Mum could sort of see, she could make out shapes and shadows of people but she had never been able to see her own babies faces, she couldn’t see the finer details when the house was covered in dust or the dishes weren’t actually clean.

Whenever I think about a hypothetical classroom and the possible students I might have I think about these families, and what if I had one of these children in my class, or one of their siblings? How would this impact their learning? What would I need to do to acknowledge this aspect of their life and accomodate for their individual learning needs, or psychological needs or physical needs?

So something that I did when I was 18/19, I knew I was doing something good for these people but really I’ve gotten so much more than I ever expected from it. It’s amazing how some things you experience in life, even a tiny seemingly insignificant detail, can stay with you forever, always in the back of your mind. I always think, especially about Cristian and Charles, about how they were treated at educational institutions and I hope that if I’m ever faced with a child in the same circumstance as either of them that I’ll be a positive influence towards their education!

So I’ve had enough rambling,

I started this over a week ago and saved the draft but have had the most hideous flu and barely been able to lift my head let alone “blog” so I’ll finally post it, here ends my first BLOG post!