Friday, September 30, 2011

Fun On Friday #123: Dinosaur songs

Short and sweet this week. A video that Daughter Number 1 brought to my attention:

My favourite bit is where the dinosaur is stomping on the car and it's owner at the 1:12 mark - does that make me a bad person?

A flip chart pop-up book. An interesting class project?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

SLF11 - Blogging In The Primary School

Brian McLaren - Clackmannan Primary School

Why is blogging useful?

Awareness of audience - lifting their eyes beyond their own classroom. (The children especially loved seeing the dots appear on the map showing where in the world visitors were coming from.) Choice and personalisation - pupil blogs reflect their own interests. Describes a learning journey - it is not just about recording an end point.

Started with class blogs. Let's parents and others see what is happening in their children's classroom. With younger classes, they used a buddy system where older children typed up what the younger ones wanted to say. The technology use is embedded in the work of the class - the posts are about real work and not stuff invented to tick an ICT task.

Each teacher has a reflective blog where they evaluate and reflect on their own blog. They do this at least once a fortnight. Shared with SMT and a partner of their choice. Leads to a rich, regular evaluation process. Teachers are fully engaged and asked for feedback on their blog posts. As part of their reflection, teachers are linking to pupil blogs as part of the evidence.

Third use of blogs was to move away from just diary entries to pupils using blogs to reflect on their own learning. They personalise the look of their blog and include links to relevant pages for the learning they are describing. They tag their own posts and choose appropriate categories. They do not just describe what they have done but they set target posts and also evaluate their work linking to evidence and peer assessment as appropriate. As well as the posts in the main area, there are pages for each of the four capacities where they link to appropriate posts. A pupil described his blog and presented what he had done very effectively. He said it made him more organised and that it was "fun". {Assessment is fun! - DM}

A pupil asked asked how teachers knew what to teach. The teacher directed him to the Experiences and outcomes on Glow. The pupil then said to the teacher that he had been given the wrong target and that he should be at level 2. {Brilliant!} S pupils now link their personal targets themselves and link them to the My Experiences and Outcomes sections. the outcomes a general but the pupils and teachers set more specific tasks.

The blogs do not just use text. They use a variety of tools including: Voki, Glogster Edu, Anymaking, Graffitimaker, Lego Minimizer, Prezi, Zooburst and they are already looking for more!

How did they start this process?

Started with a whole staff (teachers, admin, support...), whole day training event. The SMT made a commitment to allow teachers the time to do this - time spent on planning and assessment is now allocated to the blogging activities. The school make extensive use of Glow help which they find very useful. Also make extensive use of Big Buddies - the pupils offer the support, it doesn't just come from a teacher. The depute head also makes extensive use of his Personal Learning Network through Twitter.

They now have 11 class blogs, 11 teacher evaluation blogs, approximately 200 pupil blogs, a head teacher blog, the depute's blog and Eco blog (used as part of the school's evidence to get a green flag) and an RRSA blog. They have a policy governing the safe and sensible use of blogs but this document also justifies and explains why they are using blogs and why they are valuable. They have a clear progression of tasks and skills through the school.

The blogs are about communication. About reading and commenting on other people's blogs. Reading as well as writing.

It is having an impact. There are logistical difficulties about looking after 200 blogs but the impact and value is clear.

The depute's blog is:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TMSLF - Two Minute presentations

Carol Parish ClickView - sharing media clips. Searchable and sharable.

Doug Belshaw: Change MOOC and purpose/ed - purpos/ed debating the purpose of education. Conference coming up. MOOC - a Massive Open Online Course. In education, all to often we work in silos. With MOOC, every week a new educator talks about stuff. A Great place to go.

Mark Riches: National Music competition ( Next BRIT Thing ) - A competition for 11-19 year olds. Create music and upload. Music is voted on (by visitors to the site?) to create a shortlist. Panel of experts judge and best are invited to perform at various venues. All sorts of musicians and music industry people involved. Two hundred entries in the first 24 hours.

TMSLF11 - Cool Tools

Colin Maxwell - Seven cool tools in seven minutes (or 5 cool tools and a camel in the face)

1) Google Forms

Create quizzes, polls, questionnaires. Entries timestamped and easy to collate.

2) TimeGlider

Collaborate bon making interactive timelines. (Paid for service if you want multiple, i.e. Class accounts.

3) Adobe Photoshop Express

Great free online photography application.

4) Adobe Education Exchange

Lots of shared lesson plans. Not a lot of UK stuff yet. Resources can be rated and Haredim.

5) Screenr

A fantastic free screen recording tool. Works in the browser. Free version limited to five minutes. Pupils can use it to record what they do rather than writing an essay about it.

TMSLF11 - QR Codes

Joe says a great way to introduce QR Codes is to use the video from Common Craft.

Easy QR - create QR Codes on your phone on the fly. Or check out the QR Code bookmarklet.

How do we use in education? one way is to use the QR Treasure Hunt Generator. Qwikvotes is an easy way to generate a chart by people scanning a code. How to use Google Forms: A step by step guide - Grade QR Forms with a QR Code. Make a poster of Mobile Learning links. Make your classroom 4D - sticking QR Codes into text books and jitters. Use something like SnipURL to change where a code takes you, so one code that goes to constantly updated info.

TMSLF11 - Unplugd

Jen Deyenberg Unplugd Scotland

Talked about her experience going off into the wilderness of Canada with a group of educators, leaving their technology behind, and just talking about education. Topics were themed around "Why ______ Matters". For example, Why Joy Matters in Education.

You can see what they did at Unplugd Canada. Jen has set up Unplugd Scotland and invites us to join with other educators and talk about what matters.


Joe shows us a newspaper style syndication of your Tweets with

TMSLF - Jaye Richards-Hill - The Simplicity factor

What engages children? Jaye explains how a hammer can be used to teach anything. For example, smash a pot in Art and then be creative with the parts. Got to think creatively but children will have a laugh and will be engaged.

The low-tech hammer can lead to great things.

TMSLF11 - Jim McDougall

Jim McDougall - Comenius, Photography and CfE

This was good... But I failed to write anything while he talked.

TMSLF11 - John Johnston

John wants to hear from you on EduTalkr. Go there and read how to do it.

TMSLF11 - Charlie Love

CompEdNet - A Professional network of Computing and IT teachers.

Any teacher can sign up for it but someone will phone to check you are a "real person".

How do you encourage people to share? "Lurking is not a collegiate activity". CompEdNet tries to encourage participation by tracking activity, bring that you have shared or uploaded material. Helps people make connections: to share expertise, not just material.

System makes it easy to join groups with others who share your interest. Easy to contribute and easy to share.

TMSLF11 - Derek Robertson

Derek Robertson - An example of what good teachers do

TMSLF11 - Derek Robertson by DavidDMuir
TMSLF11 - Derek Robertson, a photo
by DavidDMuir on Flickr.
Making use of Glow to build community and keep the work of Game Based Learning going. To grow the good practice that has already started. The Glow group is still there but they have now created a Glow CPD Community to access resources and expertise.

Consolarium has a cupboard full of stuff that can be loaned out. To get it, you make a bid but part of the bid to borrow the kit, you have to say what you will do with it and, crucially, what impact you hope it will have.

SLF 2011 - Enhancing Game Design With Blogs

Brian Clark - PT Computing, Portabello High School
{Live capture of session}

Brian Clark
Enhancing Game Design With Blogs
Brian was seconded to Consolarium and involved in a games project with a primary school. He found that teachers felt they lacked the confidence to meet the game design requirements 2-09a outcomes. {See the Technologies document for more detail - DM}. First thing he did was to direct them to the Consolarium area on Glow where there are a series of tutorials and videos. {Note: to see most of the Consolarium links here you need a Glow Login. - DM}

Decided that Scratch was best tool for the children in their primary school. once this was decided they started to build up the capacity in the teachers, to get them up to speed in building games.

What is the game design process?

First stage is character design. When you designing a game, the characters are important - not just the game play. Also, opportunities to extend beyond the game into literacy, creativity, model making, marketing. (Think of the spin offs from established games, for example, comics, movies, novels, ...) Truely Interdisciplinary work, for example, see for example:
"By considering the type of text I am creating, I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in an appropriate way for my purpose and use suitable vocabulary for my audience.
LIT 2-26a"
(From the Literacy document.)

Model building and creating assets, see for example TCH 2-14a. Create music and audio effect his other outcomes e.g. EXA 3-17a, 2-18a.

Building the game. This hits Maths outcomes, e.g MNU 2-04a and scaling. At a fairly late stage, we start coding.

Games design therefore brings in a whole load of inter disciplinary tools. Many activities have to take place before you get to the game creation. Real games companies use blogs to communicate internally and as publicity. So, this project got the pupils to use Glow Blogs to log progress (The Room 11 Games Blog - Glow login required) and communicate between teams. (Again, inter-disciplinary, e.g. LIT 2-20a and 2-23a as well as TCH 2-08a) The children used the blogs very effectively to give and act on feedback. Children in the project school choose to write about their work and comment on other people's work. The pupils we getting about 6.5 comments per post! Very impressive level of engagement and useful feedback helped them improve their games.

SLF 2011 - Opening Keynote

The opening keynote at the Scottish Learning Festival was fully booked but I thought I'd try to get in anyway... Not only got in but got a seat near the front too. What follows is a live capture of my thoughts/reactions to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell's keynote address.
Mike Russell
Getting ready for the keynote
"Today we are all learners"

He expressed the view that all of us are responsible for making our education system the best that it can be. Praised the dedication of teachers and expressed a desire to work with teachers to improve the life chances of young people. It is ambitious but achievable. Wants to listen and respond to the ideas from teachers on what can be done to improve education.

New National Qualifications.

Every teacher will be able to have their say. Information going into school, SQA meeting with head teachers, and a series of implementation events (one for every subject) will start in May.

{Curses! Moved away from the page to get a photo and lost a chunk of the text I'd typed. Commitment to post 16 is all I remember just now.}
"I am absolutely certain we are creating a better country and a better education system."


Paul Campell: McCormack Review - Paul questioned the decision not to reduce class sizes further. Said smaller class sizes allow for more creativity in teaching.

{How cool is it that the first question asked came from a fourth year BEd student? And was the only question to get a round of applause. Brilliant!}

Answer: Mr Russell claims to be an advocate of smaller class sizes but says that we cannot ignore the economic situation. He will listen to a range of opinion before making any decision.

Alec Wood: McCormack again - COSLA thinks the main function of teaching should be caring but McCormack disagreed.

Answer: Sat firmly on the fence!

Wendy Graham (From Australia): How do you sustain a system and support educational leaders and empowering people.

Answer: The quality of leadership is what distinguishes excellent schools. The collegiate nature of leadership is one of the strengths of Scottish education. We also need to make people keen to take on leadership roles.

Joe Boyd (Head teacher): Will there be changes to the governance of schools?

Answer: Likely to be informed by Local Authority elections

Paul McGill: How will pupils access two foreign languages in school.

Answer: It will take a number of years to achieve and they are taking advice.

Question: Cutting places in FE?

Answer: There will be enough places. There will, however, be rationalisation and there will be a push to get more for less. Will do it but it will require a creative response.

David Noble: Chartered Teacher. Will he be going into the discussion with George Street research or with McCormack?

Answer: Will take evidence from a variety of sources and have a debate.

Brian Cooklan (Head teacher): Schools have been experiencing efficiency savings and cuts for years. This has lead to a situation where there is a growing inequality between the resources available in different schools. How will this inequity be addressed? Also what about Probationers and new teachers?

Answer: We are now getting to the stage that the supply and demand of teachers are being brought into balance. As for differences between schools - he thinks it is right that we have a strong local element in the school system and would not want to move to a centralised system.

Parent: Wants reassurance about the new exam system.

Answer: He hopes there will be a proper debate and informed thinking rather than scaremongering. Revered to an article in The Scotsman where a journalists was arguing that in CfE, Scotland is doing a good thing. {This article perhaps? - DM}

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fun On Friday #122: Stop Motion Squared!

If you are looking for something to do over the next couple of weekends, why not try something like this:

Hmmm... On second thoughts, it might take you more than a couple of weekends!

What I like about it is the way there is an animation within the animation - the people holding the pictures move about and the pictures they are holding are themselves like a flickbook animation. Brilliant.

And while we are on the subject of clever animation, have you seen the Ultimate Dog Tease?

It's extraordinarily well done, yes? I assume they use something like CrazyTalk but for video.

Have you come across any quirky animations? If you have, leave a comment pointing me in their direction.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fun On Friday #121: Life imitating art...

I am knd of surprised that I haven't featured xkcd here before as it is one of my favourite comic strips. It has a strong tech/nerd bias but it also deals with romance, relationships and some frankly odd hobbies.

And talking of odd hobbies, what about this:

Rollercoaster chess

Brilliant idea and typical of the sideways look at the world taken by the comic.

Now, when I see a comic that I like, I might bookmark it, or send a link to friends, but the followers of xkcd went that extra mile. They brought the comic to life as can be seen on the Chesscoaster page. I especially like the picture about a third of the way down the page where are playing Jenga!

Have you ever recreated a picture or a comic? Remember to share it here if you have.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Re: PGDE Students - Thanks!

I asked for help with a PGDE lecture (see New Session, New Students... Old Question!) and got loads of great responses here on the blog, on facebook, Twitter and Google Plus! It was really helpful. This year's lecture was re-built from the ground up, and hopefully improved, as a result of the input. Thank you.

PGDE @ Jordanhill Class of 2011/12
Photo by DavidDMuir
I hope it is OK to ask for your help again. As I have done in the past, I invited the students to text or email questions and comments during the lecture. Their texts and emails are automagically posted to an blog imaginatively titled PGDE Blog. I referred to this blog a couple of times during the lecture and dealt with some of the issues raised as we went along. I have now responded to every comment online but I would value comments from the wider educational community on some of their posts.

There was the usual crop of playful messages (well, perhaps slightly more than usual) but could I ask you to look at and comment on the following:

  1. Using Phones in class.
  2. Phones in class are distracting.
  3. The Digital Divide.
  4. Using QR Codes in education.
Thanks in advance