Saturday, 15 September 2007

My first Voice Thread

Thanks to Clarence Fisher for the great idea of how to use this programme. He has a lovely voicethread on his site about winter in Snow Lake and it has been so nice to hear the voices of people whose blogs I read. I have talked about my classroom, the space I spend so much of my life in and how I have gradually built up the space so now, in a huge school of 1200 + students, I have the use of this room and in fact it is often shown to visitors. I didn't have that as the intention- I guess I have always followed my gut instinct that asking kids to write beautiful creative work in a sterile dull environment was crazy, so I try to make the room interesting and stimulating and displays are changed regularly.It also gives the kids a buzz seeing their work on display - something that often hasn't happened since primary school. They also respect the room and very little damage or graffiti happens here. What would be great is to see how other people use their space and in particular high school classrooms.Well anyway I would love to hear from others on my voicethread -so comment away and perhaps a few more of you can show and tell about our work spaces!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Its Raining !!

The rain is falling again and suddenly I have some energy!Jo McLeay has posted about using Myspace as an assessment tool when asking students to write on character and it is a really brave and (when you think about it it)incredibly obvious way of engaging the kids where their heads are already at and applying their skills more broadly. Great idea Jo and I will be applying it myself, probably with year 9.
At the moment the work which is catching my interest the most is something I found on a website which asked students to nominate six items which would be put in a museum display to represent these times. I raised the idea with year 11s as they finished their work on Freedom of the City by Brian Friel, and we had some really great discussions where students who rarely speak in class actually were really engaged and contributed.
After starting with the obvious of mobile phones and ipods we moved to fibre optics,and then the digital divide. I spoke about my blogging and how Web 2.0 has changed the control of information flow and how we are now increasingly producers of our own content. We discussed climate issues, terrorism, fear, poverty, body image, obesity, drugs -wow all in one lesson! The kids left the room -eventually- buzzing and still coming up with more ideas. They then came to the next class after their assessment on the play, ready to produce an argument for six objects or symbols and are now making powerpoints to present an argument to the class. Hopefully I will include some when they are done as examples.
This has been quite galvanising after the issues raised by the play and they have been making connections back to work done in first semester on the Bruce Dawe poetry in Sometimes Gladness by themselves- yippee -and pointing them out to me. For example sport as a religion - Life Cycle. I have included some of the really excellent images about global warming that some of them have found. I await the presentations with excitement- they are talking about their own worlds and their own understanding of what is happening.
The second thing I am excited about is that I am getting the Year 9s to write about their week in the city by creating a Zine. They will do a paper one this time till I can find some appropriate non blocked software for us to do E-zines.The students had a fantastic time and I am getting them to work in pairs to produce their own reflection on the week with the audience of other students as their target. Should be quite a challenge for some of them and I hope to include one here when they are done. I have been to Sticky a small alternative shop in the laneway under Flinders Street between the station and Degraves St and bought some examples from them. These are alternative independently produced short run magazines with really interesting layouts and articles. The shop is the centre for the group which does art in the arcade there and performances. The whole area is a hive of interesting shops and young designers and artists trying to make a statement in a very individual and independent way.
I am still deciding which sites I want to write about for my last two reviews as I have found some terrific ones lately, but it is also reporting time and I have lots of marking so that might have to wait till the holidays!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

A city Experience
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Here is my first effort on Smilebox after the Year 9 City Experience. Thanks to Helen Marotta for the link!

Blog Review No.3 Adventures in Educational Blogging

Ok today's little gem is Adventures in Educational Blogging a serious title for quite a fun blog. Obviously there is a widget on the page for a Star Wars personality test which naturally widget queen here had to try , but I have to confess I haven't watched any of the newer Star Wars movies so it is wasted on me-why couldn't I be Princess Leia?
Susan Sedro writes from Singapore about her Technology use in school and it is lovely entertaining writing, but she seems to be having a summer holiday as her last post was in July. I should like to follow up on her discussion of Blackboard and it seems that it is another programme like Studywiz and Scholaris, both of which we are investigating for school at the moment. She raise a number of problems with the programme which are important ones we are discussing- maybe a more recent version would deal with some of these issues? She also mentions Kim Cofino's blog and a few of her entries. I hope Susan starts writing again soon!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Blog Review No2 Mr B-G's English

Ok now I'm getting into this Blogday caper and I have found a wonderful blog which is about my passion High School English teaching. Mr B-G's Blog is full of resources and enthusiasm for teaching and exploring web 2.0. These sites are like gold as so much of what we are doing in our classrooms id solitary and we don't get to see others ideas and inspirations.

Click to view my Personality Profile page He also has done these personality tests so being hopelessly addicted to widgets or any kind of thingy I can add to my page I have added mine.
I also like his bookshelf and the list of publishing and resource sites he has linked to. A recent post 'movie moaner' is an interesting exploration of his student management ideas. I wonder where his school is?hhe also has a terrific post about student physical comfort in class -something dear to my heart with the old B12 classroom armchairs, posters, plants ,flags etc I include his thoughts
Options: When students were working individually (reading or writing) or meeting in revision groups, they always had options for where to do that work. They could stay in their desks, or they could use the cushions, mats, or couch and could take the cushions and mats into the hallway to have more space and reduce noise.
Breaks: Most educators know that the brain needs pretty regular breaks in order to process the new information it’s gathering. I tried to stop every 15-20 minutes throughout our 85 minute periods to allow students to stretch, walk around, get a drink of water, etc.
Refreshments: I kept a water-cooler in my classroom that gave cold and hot water. Students were always welcome to get a cup of water or to make a cup of tea. I also kept a basket full of mints (helpful for group work). Students could bring in additional food or drink to share (we kept a small refrigerator, too.) I had a “Scooby fund” (a Scooby-Doo doll with a pocket in front) for students to contribute change to help cover the expenses. They policed the sharing themselves.
Environment: My classroom had no windows, so getting things to grow was difficult. I had two tough little plants that survived “the dungeon” and a few other fake ones. I also used a number of lamps so that I could turn off the glaring fluorescent lights. We put up posters and student artwork on the walls. I played music throughout the day when appropriate, and students could bring in their own selections.

What a positive attitude and I would love to read more of his thoughts.I will try and add a picture of my room at the moment because it is bursting with lovely displays and it is fun to go into it.The personality tests are found here if you want to do your own I'm not so sure about the Engineer bit- maybe I should do it again?

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Blog Review No.1 Teachers Improving Learning Through Technology is Teachers Improving Learning Through Technology - a blog produced by an absolute whiz called Danny Maas.Not only does he produce downloadable presentations which explain how to do a huge range of different activities , he also has the links necessary and even the rubrics on the site as well. I am going to use the one about Multimedia storybooks in Powerpoint. It is a really practical presentation for Year 7 classes but the basic idea gives me some ideas and I am thinking about using Desktop Author as the media for this work. Some of the other presentations are excellent and although they seem to be more focussed on junior classes, they are great as a starting point for people who want to have things explained easily.Well I have left a message for Danny and I hope that he gets some new readers as he is doing a terrific job!