Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

Thanks to Mrs Blethers, I've just wasted some time throwing snowballs at Buddy the Elf (among others). I am ashamed to say that I was on my third go before I discovered that you weren't supposed to hit Santa!

Also thanks to Mr Tosh (Master Blethers I believe) I spent some time smashing sprouts and listening to versions of 80's pop-songs. Ah... happy days! :-)

Now, all I need is for Mr B. and young master Blethers to chip in with game suggestions and I'll never have time to make an educational blog post again. (Ewan tried to distract me with the Irn Bru advert, but I'd already seen it - thanks Ollie - and it's not a game, so that doesn't count!)

My own contribution to festive time wasting is this Grab a Gift game from Santa Clause 3. Enjoy!

Happy Christmas everybody

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Monday, December 11, 2006

This will require deep thought...

Try entering the query:
  • What is the answer to life the universe and everything?
into Google. (Note - no quotation marks!)

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

EduFlickr: Telling Tales

I think I have mentioned a few times in previous EduFlickr posts that Flickr (and other online photo sharing tools) can be a great source of images and that these images can be used to stimulate creative writing. I've been meaning for some time to write a post about telling stories with Flickr but Alan has already given an excellent introduction to fliction. I will therefore content myself some observations and a couple of examples.

Colin's first haircut
Colin's first haircut,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
Although I have titled this Telling tales and I've talked about "creative writing", it should not be assumed that the English department is going to have all the fun. Apart from anything else, one of the examples Alan gives is of the Tell a story in 5 frames group where the pictures tell the story. Of course once a visual story has been published, often people give their interpretation in the comments and in the discussion area, so there is still scope for creative writing. However, I think some of the best submissions to this group demonstrate the power pictures to carry a story. For example one of my favourites is Women!, which tells a story in only three pictures. (See them here: one, two and three.) The text with this story gives you more information, but it stands alone as a good story without any words at all.

Flickr groups like this often throw out challenges, for example, the Six Word Story group (only six words because of Ernest Hemmingway's famous six word story: "For sale: baby shoes, never used.") recently had a discussion thread where people submitted six word stories and invited others to submit suitable pictures. And as reciprocity would have it, a number of pictures are submitted be people looking for six word stories. Plenty of opportunity here for cross-curricular work?

My final observation is that "story" can be interpreted fairly loosely and stories can be told within a variety of curricular contexts. For example, could you use pictures to tell the story of a glaciated landscape - from a corrie, through a u-shaped valley and down to a terminal moraine? (Scraping the bottom of my geological knowledge here - maybe Ollie can confirm if this makes sense as an example!) Or, Mr W's story about how to make toad in the hole. Or a photo story on the development of a model. Or... oh, you get the picture!

...And the examples? I thought it only fair to have a go at telling a digital story myself before making this post. So here is my go at a six word story and my first attempt at telling a story in five frames. Leave a comment if you have a go and let us know where to find your stories.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

New cars, synchronicity and iPods

I've been a bit quiet recently. I'd like to say it's because I've been too busy, but while I have been busy, it's mostly my lack of organisation that has led to the lack of posts! (See the photograph of my desk for evidence of my lack of organisation.)

I've got loads of things to blog about and I'll try to get some of them out over the next few days. I thought I'd start with our new car (well, new to us... it's about 9 months old). We picked up our new car on Saturday 25th of November. As we were signing all the forms to transfer ownership of our old car (see picture!) and take possession of the new one, we had to say when we got the old car. To our surprise, we discovered that we got our old car on the 25th of November 1999 - exactly seven years earlier! {Do-do, do do! Do-do, do do! - insert Twilight Zone theme tune here!}

Apart from having a working clutch (which wasn't the case with our old car) the new one is notable for having an auxiliary audio input socket - in other words, I can play my iPod through the car stereo. Huzzah! As a result I caught up on a huge backlog of David Warlick's podcasts in the space of one day's school visits. Huzzah! As always, David's podcasts gave me loads to think about. Huzzah!

In particular, I liked the way one of the people he was chatting to described information. (Can't remember who said it, but I think it is in Episode #70 if you want to check it out for yourself.) The chap said something along the lines of... "Information today is like white noise. It's always there but usually we tune it out. However, when we need to find something, we can tune in and find out what we need." I liked that. I've talked before about how many of our pupils carry about with them mobile devices capable of tuning in to this white noise and extracting the important stuff... but I'm not convinced that as educators we've really worked out how to cope with this or what changes it will bring to our education system.

One other thing that stood out from a recent podcast was the report of a conversation. A teacher who was perhaps concerned about losing their status as sage on the stage, asked something like, "But what do you do if a pupil asks you something and you don't know the answer?" The reply made was something like: "The same as when I do know the answer - I say, 'That's a good question. How do you think we can find an answer?' "

All good stuff. The only problem I have with the listening in the car method is that there is no easy way to take notes. (Hence all the "something like" bits above!) I think I need another iPod so I can record my thoughts in a podcast as I listen to other people's podcasts. :-)

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