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Showing posts from 2009

Introducing Children to Geocaching

I really enjoy Geocaching it is that thought of being able to be a kid again I think, looking for the treasure and sharing it with others via the net, talking about it, showing off photos etc. 

We've been working on Geometry this term so looking at grid co-ordinates and finding about about direction, rotation fits quite well with this unit.  It's also a follow up to our camp earlier in the year when children were introduced to a GPS for use within a survival situation.  The children had to find there way around the camp grounds picking up essential survival items along the way.

All that aside, how did I introduce it?

1. I used Google maps & Google Earth, I let the children loose in these two programs finding their own houses and different landmarks around our school

2.  I set them a shape finding challenge, they had to find and label at leasst ten shapes in within the Auckland area including the geometric attributes within the description of the shape.  Here is one of th…

4 Weeks Since Ulearn --- What's happened so far?

Well as always happens the fourth term seems to be one of the busiest for me. I hit the ground running, literally around school getting organised to leave for camp by 8.45am on Monday Day 1 Term 4. Camp was fantastic by the way a real experience for many of our children that haven't had the opportunity to really challenge themselves in the outdoors.

So what have I done since Ulearn....

1. I've tried out new web 2.0 tools for publishing writing including Marvin

2. Looked carefully at how the topic/theme this term is structured in my classroom

3. Asked the children in my class about what they want to learn in regards to our topic

4. Had fun! Enjoyed some great days with children that weren't planned, didn't relate to our theme/topic, had nothing to do with standards or testing but turned out to be the best days we've had as a class.... we had a look at some great websites and had fun teaching each other how they worked. Shared. learnt.

5. Enjoyed listening, l…

Marvin --- Much Fun!

Well I've finally set a bit of time aside from doing my last assignment to play with Marvin.  I have had a great fun becoming a kid again and making the characters do all sorts of werid and wonderful things.  I'll be testing out the program with my class on Tuesday as a bit of treat after they have sat their PAT test.  I think it'll have to be something that we use with our buddy class to create a review of the year and definately something we show off in assembly to our wider community. 

If you haven't had a chace to play yet, give it a go, there are many easy to follow tutorials available for download.  I managed to create my own background image using Art Rage and my own voice using Audacity.

Here is my first attempt at making a little video I'm going to add to it and use it to introudce our class topic on Tuesday...

I'll post more complex examples as I create them.

Ulearn Notes - Pre Conference

Here are the notes I took during our pre-conference workshop with David Anderson - Thinking Teacher - Thinking Classroom.

The list of attributes a thinking teacher should have...

Goal setting as a thinking teacher...

ULearn Notes - Breakout 1,2,3, Monday Keynote

As promised here are my notes from ULearn 09.  My battery tended to run out by the end of the keynote or even before we got to the keynote hence some of the notes being in pen & paper versions rather than digital.  I used my tablet laptop and inspiration where I could to write my notes in a mind map sort of form.  I haven't used inspiration extensively before, I found it useful to write my notes rather than type them and the ability to move them around within the mindmap made it easier to organise and link my thoughts together.

Martyn Weatherhill - Nine in 90 The Best E-Learning Tools in 10 Minutes or Less - Breakout 1

I used onenote to record my notes for this breakout.  I didn't write a lot as we were given a CD with all of the information we needed on it.  I really enjoyed this breakout and the software that Martyn chose to introduce us to.  I'll definately be looking into a few of them for schoolwide installation.

Andrea Tele'a - Authentic Presenters for an Authe…

ULearn Notes - Breakout 4 & 5, Thursday Keynote

Gary Stager - The Best Educational Ideas in the World - Breakout 4

Tony Bryank and Amanda Prosser - Embedding ICT into 21st Century Classrooms - Breakout 5

Derek Wennmoth - The Future's Not What It Used To Be - Keynote Thursday

ULearn Notes - Breakout 6 & 7, Friday Keynote

Andy Penman - Qwizdom - Breakout 6

Jill Pears - Get Scratching - Breakout 7

Learning Journeys - Margaret Carr - Friday Keynote

Ulearn Day 3

Last day :(.  Breakouts first thing this morning were a little hard to get up for after all the great entertainment and food at the conference dinner last night.  I made it.

Interesting to find out about Qwizdom this morning, how it all worked and potential applications in the classroom.  Probably not somehting I would consider but always worth having a look at these new technologies.

I'm off to learn all about using scratch next.

Ulearn Day 2

What a great day, a little tired from all the thinking I’m doing but still well worth attending the breakouts and keynote we had today. I have to take my hat off to Derek Wenmonth that stepped in and gave us a keynote at short notice. I think we need more educators who are willing to take the risks you did in your keynote this morning.

It’s always great to here from the people that are actually out there using ICT in ways that are allowing children to experience things that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. I think everyone around me enjoyed listening to the enthusiastic recount of what the Pt England children had been doing especially with the chance they had to talk with Will Smith.

Breakout 4 provided me with more challenges from Gary Stager, I wrote on my evaluation from – thank you for challenging the way I teach, I think all of us need that challenge every so often just to remind ourselves to think about why we are doing what we are doing and ensure we are able to answer that qu…

Ulearn Pre-conference & Day 1

Well I don’t think I can put into words the inspiration that I felt today during the Ulearn conference. As a first time attendee I didn’t really know what to expect so I just made sure I read everything on the website and emails that I received I also joined up to twitter earlier this year and watched with interest the excitement that has developed over the last few weeks leading up to the conference.

I have now attended my pre-conference workshop, the first day keynote and breakouts 1,2 and 3 and I’m really looking forward to the next installment tomorrow. I can’t wait to be challenged an inspired by the presenters tomorrow.

Notes from today will be scanned in soon.

Pre-Conference – Thinking Teacher Thinking Classroom – David Anderson
A challenging presentation that made me really think carefully about my classroom practice.

Breakout 1 - Nine in 90 minutes
Breakout 2 - Authentic presenters for an authentic audience
Breakout 3 - Showcase for the future
The one presentation I didn’t m…

ULearn Here I Come!

Well I'm off to ULearn on the early flight tomorrow.  Starting with a pre-conference workshop >> Thinking Teacher Thinking Classroom.  I'm really looking forward to it and the rest of the conference.  It is going to be a fantastic opportunity to share, network and learn I can't wait!

I'll be updating my blog as I go through the conference so check back soon.

What's Really Important?

In light of recent natural disasters I find myself asking - what's really important for me to teach the children in my classroom?  When I think about the tsunamis and earthquakes that struck Samoa and Indonesia earlier this week along with feeling a sense of despair because I can't help many of those affected it also makes me wonder about what children in those situations really needed to know.

Obviously some of us are in situations where we are more at risk of natural disasters or human made disasters than others. So why is it then that New Zealand is trying to make a standard that all children will be measured against, surely there are things that are more important to teach in some regions of our country than others, so how can we possibly apply the same standard to all children?

I may be oversimplifying here.  Wouldn't it be better for our children to be able to think for themselves, solve problems, see the big and the small picture rather than smaller goals like knowing…

Ressiting that telling tempation....

I've benn working hard at this little gem this year, resisting the urge to tell children rather than help them to find / work it out for themselves. The mathematics paper we're doing as a staff has highlighted the importance of this form me. Every time we tell a student how to work something out we then sometimes assume they have understood it yet research in the area of mathematics tells us they are not understanding it especially when we look at place value. I'm happy to dig out the research for anyone who's interested.

Anyhow my point is I've transferred this from maths to spelling, today we were looking at how to make a word into a plural and instead of explaining the rule and getting the children to practice it we brainstormed some nouns ending in O and then I got them to go away with a dictionary and try and work out what the pattern / rule was for turning these words into plurals. We'd already done some work using singpost letters and plurals, we'r…

ICT News - Useful?

This year I've taken on the role of being Teacher in Charge of ICT at our school. It has been a reasonably steep learning curve as I've had to get to grips with being in charge of a budget and being the go to person when something goes wrong with any of our ICT equipment. I've also had to learn to deal with managing problems and ensuring those that really are urgent get solved first. My management degree and systems experience has definitely come in handing over the course of the last three terms.

One of the things I've tried to implement this year is a regular ICT News bulletin that includes useful links, passwords, and short how to guides. I've also tried to introduce a variety of web based tools for use in our computer suite and within classrooms. The comments from staff have been very positive which is fantastic I'm glad I can help to inspire in some small way. Now I'm looking at how to improve the bulletin, however this is difficult as we all know tea…

Wiki Journals

We've had a very busy term so far and only a week until our Junk to Funk show ARGH!

The children have really enjoyed using our wikispace as a journal to record the process they have been through to make their artworks. They have all been making a piece of wearable art out of junk. I started off by taking photos each time we did anything with our Junk to Funk topic so we built up quite a few photos.

The last two weeks however the children have taken over asking to use the camera and taking their own photos to add to their journals. They have really started thinking about what kind of photos they are taking and how they are going to make them more interesting.

Having a wikispace means they are able to work on their journals at home as well, it's a welcome change to get an email saying *** has edited their journal and reading the little updates they've made at home. I can't wait to start sharing the journals with our year 1-2 buddy class over the next two weeks.

At the momen…

Time to Let Go!

I've had a great week with my class this week, they have really shown me that live in a digital world. This is their space. I think I've known that for a while but I've held back because I wasn't sure if it was okay to let them loose and to be digital rather than pen and paper... what will the school community say? I'm I going to have to explain why it is so important for this change to happen in our classroom? What will other teachers say? is always in the back of my mind.

I've made one big mistake though, one of the children asked me if they could draft their work on the computer and I said no we're only planning our work then printing it out and drafting in our draft writing books so that you can edit in red pen and then conference with me on it. You should have seen the look of disappointment on his face. ARGH why did I say that! I guess it's because I have this preconceived idea that I need to check how they are editing their work and see wha…

At their fingertips...

Well it's only been two days but already I've had teachers comment about the changes I've made to my classroom and most importantly the children in my class are loving it. They are at home with the new computers at their fingertips design of our classroom and wish they could have more. I knew it would be something they enjoyed but I didn't think that it would be that enjoyable, I guess I underestimated how much more engaged they would be.

Things to smile about:
- new writing, reading and mathematics contracts making use of computer groups for warm ups, discussions and brainstorms
- engagement in learning even when they aren't using the computers.
- whole class is more involved as they have a 1:3,4 or 5 ratio so more opportunity to contribute

Things that need tweeking
- creating comments via our blog, not working too well through our network
- getting the cords to stick in the right place so they don't get run over by seats, desks or feet.
- traffic jam around art ar…

Attempting to Integrate ICT Just a Little Bit More

Well after much debate and lots of moving of desks and chairs I've come up with a new classroom layout for term 3. Of course this may all change again once they children finish their scale maps on how they would like to the classroom to look. Thanks to

Here's what it looks like for now....

BubbleShare: Share photos - Easy Photo Sharing

There's one big group in the middle with xtenda and decent speed xp system and three other groups to the side, one with a mac laptop and two with older xp based machines. I'm hoping to get another machine to take over the mimio & projector duties as it's a pain having my laptop permanently attached to it makes release time a little harder as I have to pry laptop away from the children.

More Mathematics Workshops

Well a huge thanks has to go to Jacqui Sharp again for her inspiration for mathematics workshops... I've created two more for this terms strand focus which I plan to share with the rest of the team.

I plan to use these after I have introduced the children to each aspect so they will be come practice and reinforcement rather than straight introductions to the topic.

To get the great animations and the sound effects you'll need to download the file from slideshare :) The children in my class enjoy music and like to have things move around the screen so I've added a few in this time. Slideshare also wipes out the inking I've used via my tablet so you'll need to download the file to get that as well.

I'd love to hear your comments on these two workshops!

Statistics- Statistical Investigations Workshop 1
View more presentations from Angela Lee.
Probability - The Basics Workshop 1

View more presentations from Angela Lee.

There's just something about having a choice...

Well it's finally the last day of term 2... it's been a long term. Today I wanted to reflect on the choices I've given my class in the last week. I like to round off each term with a finishing off period where we work on reflecting on the term and getting things finished that we might not have been able to during the previous weeks in the term. This means that the children get a choice as to what they are doing. We create a Big Scary List together that really isn't all that scary and they need to finish everything on it in order to participate in fun things on Friday or the last day of the term.

Now this works really well for most children in the class they enjoy being able to work at their own pace and to choose what to do next. One thing I have noticed this year especially with having year 4's is that there are more children who can't handle this opportunity, they choose basically not to do anything if left to their own devices. This means I end up havi…

Better than maths...

I've been working with the children in my class on measurement this term with a focus on length, width, area and perimeter. Today as one of the last activities of the unit I talked to the children about how I'd like to change the classroom around during the upcoming holiday break. I explained that I'd really like them to decide where we are going to put everything so they are going to create their own classroom maps and we'll vote once they're finished.

Being a class full of kids hungry for competition they thought this was a great idea. We had a short discussion on how maps are made and what scale means on a map. We also talked about using a scale of 1m = 10cm just to make it easy.

Anyhow I set them to work on measuring pretty much everything in the room so that they could then use our scale and create their own classroom maps. They all went about this rather mamouth task. After working on this for about 25-30mins one of my girls came up and said "Thi…

Write Anywhere & Recognise Ink - Mimio

Yahoo, I'm finally getting the hang of the write anywhere tool that comes with the Mimio software - Mimio Notebook. I love this tool!

If you haven't used it before it's basically a quick and simple way to change your writing into typed text. Very useful when you're adding things into something other than Mimio notebook (when you're in Mimio notebook you can use recognise ink to change your writing into text).

Today we used it to add examples to our table in a word document we were working on. It meant I could write just like a would with a whiteboard marker and just like magic write anywhere changed my writing into text and put it into our table. The children thought it was fantastic!

Recognise ink in the tools section of Mimio Notebook is also fantastic, the children in my class have been using it in our roll call file to change the names they have written into typed text. It's very powerful because difficult to read handwriting becomes difficult to read ty…

Voice Thread

My class and I have been experimenting with Voice Thread what a great tool. One that I discovered a while ago but didn't really get into until now. We used it to comment on Despereaux that I've been reading to the class.

It was great to listen to the ideas the children had about the book, ideas that I would't have been able to gain from some of them had we left it to. I got the children to write down a PMI just a sentence for each one before they recorded their opinions. This helped them to feel a little more at ease when using the microphone.

There faces while listening to themselves were classic. What a fantastic opportunity to talk about what we hear when we're speaking and the things we need to be careful of so that others can understand our message. We came up with a set of things we needed to think about when talking into a microphone that will help them to improve next time.

Well worth the experimentation time :) and the frustration of getting the children a…

Reading Comprehension

Wouldn't we all love to have our children actually comprehend what they have just read in their reading group? I have been struggling with this over the past term but have found a few interesting resources to use that might engage a few more children in the process...

Firstly Into The Book, a great little American website that works through some of the most important comprehension strategies children need to have. I've found this site fantastic as it even has videos of children using the strategies (in the teacher's section). I've shared a few of these with my class and they have not only enjoyed the great Americanaccent but have engaged with the strategy when we practiced it afterwards. They are starting to use the language of comprehension and even looking at using more than one strategy at once WAHOOOO!!

Secondly we've been really lucky to have the great expertise of Alison Davison site. We had a very challenging session with her earlier this year and have all bee…