Scratch

I came across Scratch another fantastic technological resource for using in the classroom on Wes Fryer’s wiki.

Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.

As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.

I highly recommend Chris Betcher’s video Teaching Kids to Think Using Scratch.  He goes through the basics to get you started with scratch and demonstrates the different ways in which Scratch can be used in the classroom.  He demonstrates a simple task he would use with students – programming a character to walk in a square.  To do this students are required to think about units, measurement, numbers, degrees, angles, decimal numbers, shapes and position.  These kind of tasks encourage students to think more deeply about problem solving and how they can apply computer programming in the real world.

Scratch is a free program downloadable from the web.  You can download it at http://www.scratch.mit.edu/

 

Also click on the link above to Wes Fryer’s wiki for a wealth of resources on Scratch including tutorial videos, lesson plans and ideas for using Scratch in the classroom.

 

 

Cyberbullying

I came across some notes by Wes Fryer taken from the keynote speaker’s (Robyn Treyvaud) speech at the 21st Century Learning @ Hong Kong Conference.  Robyn’s speech was titled Our 21st Century Challenge: Developing Responsible, Ethical and Resilient Digital Citizens.  In her speech Robyn talks about being a responsible citizen and recommends a number of resources which can be used with kids to teach them about cyber bullying.

I particularly like the following video clip about cyber bullying which Robyn recommends as a great resource as she finds this clip particularly resonates with students.

 

 

To see the full notes from Robyn’s speech click here there are a number of links to great resources.

Another great website which is worth looking at is digizen.org which provides information, advice and resources for using social networking services with young people and information and advice on recognising and tackling cyberbullying.  The overall purpose of the site is to educate children on how to be a good digital citizen.  The following is an excerpt I copied from their site ;

What makes you such a
good digizen?

Digital citizenship isn’t just about recognising and dealing with online hazards. It’s about building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage personal information, and about being internet savvy – using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way, and inspiring others to do the same.

 

 

 

How to add a picture to your sidebar

As I mentioned in my last post I was unsuccessful at uploading my blog avatar to my sidebar but was able to add it as a picture. So just in case anyone else would like to know how to add a picture to the sidebar here is a quick How to.

Click on Add New > Post

Then click on the add image icon next to Upload/Insert

Click Select files  and locate the image you want to upload from your files and select  open.  The following screen will appear which allows you to add a title, description which will appear when you hover the mouse over the image or you can add a URL address so that you can click on the image it will direct you to another site. When you have entered all the necessary information select Insert into post.

Click on the HTML Tab at the top right hand corner.
Highlight the HTML text and copy it CTRL + C
Go to Appearance > Widgets
Click on the sidebar where you want your picture to appear then find the text widget on the left hand side and drag and drop to your sidebar.  See below,
Under the text widget the following screen appears paste the HTML code  and add a title if you wish then click SAVE.
Now your image should appear in your sidebar. (Hopefully)

Avatars

I’ve spent all morning creating my avatar and uploading it to my blog. Since this is something I think children would be right into and is a great way to personalise your blog without having to put up a photo of yourself which schools may not want to do for safety reasons I have decided to post some information and resources for creating avatars which hopefully you will find useful.

I created my avatar at Bless This Chick which has a large range of features available to create female avatars.  To find an avatar that suits your online identity check out the websites below:

Build Yourself Wild

DoppelMe

Dream Avatar Creator

Hero Factory

The Mini Mixer

Mr Picasso Head

Wee Mee

Simpsons Avatar

Once you have created your avatar save it as a jpg file and email to yourself.

To upload to your blog go to your Dashboard then select Users > Your avatar > or Profile > Your avatar

Then select Browse locate your avatar then click open

Click Upload

Select the part of the image you want to use then click crop image.

Your avatar will now appear whenever you leave a comment.  I was also expecting it to appear in my sidebar as I had moved the blog avatar widget to my sidebar and thought it would automatically upload but it just wouldn’t.  If anyone can enlighten me as to what I might be doing wrong it would be much appreciated.  To overcome the problem I just embedded a picture of my avatar into my sidebar which i will write as a new post if anyone is interested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diigo in the classroom

Diigo is a social bookmarking, research and knowledge sharing tool which I think would be very useful in the classroom.

Diigo is ideal for team research, students can set up their own groups for a particular group assignment and pool and organise their resources in the one area.  Students are also able to read, highlight, sticky note and bookmark any of the resources for the benefit of the group.

I found the following slideshare  to be a very useful resource. 

http://www.slideshare.net/granolagirls/diigo-in-the-classroom

On slide 23 you will find a list of useful resources for using Diigo in the classroom.  I particularly like the digitally speaking website which has some useful handouts to get teachers and students started with Diigo and they have created different roles for students using Diigo.  The link to this website is http://digitallyspeaking.pbworks.com/

The other website which I found to be really helpful on Diigo and many other technological resources for the classroom is http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/62228.aspx/

I think Diigo is a great way to organise and store digital information as I’ve said before I’m forever losing track of things I find on the web so I think Diigo will definitely help with this. 

Has anyone else got any good ideas for using Diigo in the classroom?

The New School

 

 

I recently watched an interesting interview with Joel Klein and Sir Ken Robinson discussing the future of education.

 

Robinson and Klein are both of the opinion that in 5 years time we will offer a more personalised education system for our students through the curriculum, our teaching methods and forms of assessment.  They assert that current school systems resemble more of a manufacturing model designed to address the whole rather than the individual.  Robinson and Klein believe that multiple modalities will allow educators to tailor teaching and learning to suit individual needs allowing children to work at their own pace.

 

I think that in theory children working at their own pace according to a program suited to their needs sounds wonderful but from experience I know there are some students who are reluctant to learn at all.  How do we engage and keep the reluctant learner motivated so they don’t end up lagging further and further behind their more motivated peers?

 

How do you engage learners in their own process of development?

According to Robinson and Klein this is an art form and only the best teachers can do this.  Unfortunately there is no step by step guide explaining how to engage and motivate reluctant learners because each and every student is different and what may work for one won’t necessarily work for another.

 

There is one element I believe to be lacking in our current system which I think would increase student engagement and that is instilling value for education.  If students valued education I’m sure motivation to learn and succeed would increase.  For students to see the value of their education they must feel a sense of purpose for the learning tasks they are participating in.  I think bringing technology into the classroom would definitely help this as I believe students of today are experiencing a large disconnect between school and real life.  Technology plays a large part in the majority of student’s life outside the classroom. If we were to make better use of technology in the classroom then perhaps students would be more motivated to learn and find value in purpose in their learning.

 

I recently went to a professional development session by Greta Caruso about the different education systems around the world.  In Greta’s opinion Cuba’s education system is one of the best in the world.  The reason for this she believes is the value student’s place on education.  Students feel that education is a privilege and they possess a lifelong passion for learning.

 

Do you think if student’s valued education more they would be more engaged and motivated to learn?

 

How can we instill value for education in our students?

 

To see what else Klein and Robinson and have to say about the future of education go to http://ideas.economist.com/presentation/new-school/

 

 

Google Reader


This week I have started a google reader account.  Google reader is an easy way to follow websites and blogs from one easy location.  I wish I had found out about this handy tool earlier as I am forever finding useful information and blogs on the web which I can never find my way back to.  Google reader allows you to subscribe to blogs and will automatically send any new information that is uploaded to your account.

 

After uploading a large number of blogs to my reader I found the amount of information in front of me rather overwhelming but have learnt a few tricks to help me keep on top of all the information which I will share with you.

 

Organising information into folders based on topic 

To do this hover the mouse over a blog (see screen shot below)

Cick the arrow button to the right

Click new folder

 

The following box will appear asking you to name your folder.
Click OK and a new folder titled EST430 will appear in your menu.
Now when I click to the right of any blog EST430 will appear in the list of options, so I just click on it and the blog will be moved into that folder.  Clicking on a specific folder will display only the information present in that folder.
Star Folder
To find and store relevant and important information scan through the headlines and if it is an item you want you can click on the star button at the bottom of the post.  The item will then be moved to your folder titled starred items.  Now you have all your
favourites in the one spot.
Now I have figured out how to do screen shots does can anyone tell me how to annotate them?
To start your own google reader account go to google.com/reader and the rest is simple.

Edmodo

I think edmodo is a good introduction for children into the world of social networking as it allows students to communicate and learn in a secure environment.  

 In the last decade social networking sites such as facebook have influenced the way we live and communicate.  Today’s students are digital natives and technology will no doubt be an integral part of their lives. However the prevalence of technology exposes children to risks that they do not have the maturity to recognise or handle.  Edmodo provides opportunities to address the dangers and issues associated with the cyber world as well as demonstrating the benefits of online communication and collaboration.

 I could see myself using edmodo in the classroom in the following ways:

 Group discussions initiated by the teacher or peers.  For example I read about a teacher who sets up online groups using edmodo for literature circles.  I think this would be particularly beneficial for children who are reluctant to participate in a group situation or for those students who need time to think.  Students are able to contribute to discussions at any time rather than the designated class time.

 Edmodo enables students would to showcase their work to not only their peers but to parents and the wider community.  This also allows for students to provide feedback or collaborate on projects to make their work even better.

 Edmodo enables students to communicate with classrooms or people around the world.  I have heard of classrooms connecting with other classrooms around the world or even communicating with famous authors, scientists or sportsmen which may relate to a specific unit of work.

 Edmodo would be a great tool to improve my own and students organistion as well as enhance communication.  Some ideas to aid in this are upload notices and homework assignments , post reminders about important events,  share resources and provide a space for different forms of communication ie. parent – teacher, or student – student etc…

 I’m sure there are many more ways to make use of edmodo which I haven’t begun to think of yet.  The advantages are many but particulary edmodo provides an interactive online experience for students which can be utilised inside and outside the classroom.  It provides new ways for students to collaborate and exposes them to a wider variety of ideas.  Edmodo is also a proactive move towards addressing the negative side of social networks.

The Beginning

Hi All

My name is Paula and after completing this unit I will be finished my 3rd year of teaching at Deakin University.  I really enjoy the ICT units as there are so many great technological tools for use in the classroom.

At the end of this year my family and I are moving to India for 2 years which I am really excited about but unfortunately I will have to defer my last year of study.  I am hoping to do some volunteer work in the education field once I get over there and I think the software tools we are learning about in this unit will be a great way for me to keep up to date with the latest developments and expand my knowledge, contacts, resources etc…

I have got off to a late start with this unit so still playing around with my blog and learning about all the different tools and features.

Loooking forward to improving my skills and blogging all about it.