Week 12 – Final task!

It seems strange to write this post for the course, knowing that it will be my last. In some weeks I have  felt overloaded with work, and yet it now seems I will miss my weekly challenge and the link with others who have also undertaken the PLN course. The next challenge for me is to go back with my colleagues and look at the tools ….a bit more slowly this time….. to identify whether  we can incorporate them into our programs. 

I look forward to catching up with you all on the Ning and Twitter and hope that many of you will continue to post to your blog so we can share our successes in putting all of our new knowledge to use in our classrooms and libraries.  I will hopefully catch up with some of you in the flesh at our get-together too.
Thanks to everyone for your support and especially to Judith who is obviously a glutton for punishment as she is now working on the next PLN course!! 

Good luck to everyone!

View more presentations from Elaine H.

Almost over….

In preparing for my final post of the course, I was amazed to see just how many different tools we have covered over the past 12 weeks. I’m sure I have missed some out, and I know I have only just touched on most of them. Have resolved to go back and look at them again – a bit more slowly and in consultation with my colleagues. I’m sure we will find many to use with our classes and share with other staff at school. The benefits from this course will continue to develop and grow long after the course is over.

Week 11 Presentation tools continued….

A busy week at school with the Course selection expo, Athletics sports and Year 7 Oral presentation evening, sees me once again falling behind with my PLN work after catching up in the holidays. Nonethless I am determined to hang in there despite so much to do and so little time.

Since my last post I have investigated many of the tools listed, with varied amounts of success. Docstoc certainly has many documents stored on all sorts of categories, and a useful list of  ‘Related content’ on the right hand side of the chosen page. The search option is good. I did wonder why Wikipedia pages were stored there though…. probably just as easy to locate them directly.   Scribd is another document sharing tool. This might be useful in class as students could collaborate on a piece of work, or as the site suggests, cit could be used for English students wanting feedback on their writing. This could also apply to LOTE students.      

I spent way too much time playing with Storyz  to discover firstly that after spending time making a couple of storyz, I could not embed them in my blog due to a technical hitch with the site and secondly, that it was not on the list of tasks to investigate! Not sure where I got that one from! I thought it could be quite  a good tool to use with students  where they could create and share stories on line until it wouldn’t save anywhere despite having signed up etc! The stories that were already there were more like brief posts and the search facility was not working. A disappointing few hours!

Although we have looked at Google Lit trips before, I did revisit this one. As well as English lit, this site could be used by history students and maybe even LOTE classes, depending on the area and period they were researching. I quite like this just for interest too.

I had a look at Prezi but the zooming movement made me feel ill 🙁   Next I moved on to Weblist. This looked great for a Year 8 Issues unit I am starting to work on, so decided to set up a few weblinks and photos just as a starting point. It was extremely easy to use and I really think the students will prefer the visual of the page rather than just a list of links. It makes it easier to remember where you have been on the site. Again though I did have a few problems with this as you can see here, (hopefully?) but I will persevere with this one as I really think it will be a very useful tool.

A very frustrating week really, but I do have an idea of what these tools are supposed to do, even if I had limited success. I will try again with Weblist and hope I have more luck.

Goodnight for now…or should I say good morning!!! Eek it’s 1.00am!

Week 11 – Presentation tools – Slideshare

At first I thought this was ‘just’ a way to store powerpoint-type presentations, but I realise now that many useful slideshows are available for us to view and learn from. It is quite easy to search and the addition of voice-over is great because it is a complete presentation.

I found this one from Kathryn Greenhill.  Although it is a couple of years old, I think it is quite appropriate to where I am at with this course. One of the things she said librarians need to do is take risks with Web2.0.   I am feeling quite chuffed today as I finally got the courage (with the support of  a Year 7 English teacher) to launch a Year 7 Book Blog I have been playing with but lacked the nerve to actually use in case something went wrong! Kathryn suggests the focus is changing now from librarians setting up a few new features that work perfectly, to implementing a larger a range of features that may not be perfect, but that will be trialled and are able to be further developed according to what the users want.

The last question Kathryn puts to us regarding taking risks with Web2.0 is ‘What are the consequences of me trying this?’ and more importantly ‘What are the consequences if I DON’T try it?’ 

Week 10 – Gaming for Learning

Coming from a school that spends possibly too much time making sure students are NOT playing games in class time, I feel we, as a school, have quite a way to go with the ideas presented this week. Having said that, how could you not see the points made by Jane McGonigal as worthy of consideration? Her explanation of the skills that our ‘virtuoso’ gamers are good at was spot on.  Kids do have ‘urgent optimisim’ that it is worth trying till you succeed; they do develop trust; they are happy working hard to achieve the desired result; and they do see the ‘epic meaning’ when playing games.

Given the hours students spend honing these skills, we are silly if we don’t try to build on this process. We should focus on the skill development rather than the content in our teaching. I liked Jane’s phrase suggesting students should be empowered to ‘make the future’ – we certainly can’t prepare them for a future we can’t predict, but we can encourage them to develop skills that will enable  them to cope with it.

This week’s readings have pointed out the many benefits of directed game playing. I like the article ‘How social gaming is improving education’, and Jane McGonigal’s games ‘World without oil’, ‘Superstruct’ and ‘Evoke’ are perfect examples of solvingWordle: Gaming for learning real world problems using games. We don’t have to start with something as big as changing the world, but teachers need to acknowledge that rather than time-wasting activities, game playing can develop literacy skills, vocabulary, maths thinking skills, problem solving skills and social (on-line) skills.

Maybe its’s time for us as educators to be ‘making the future’ of education.

The Elluminate session with Adrian and Hamish was eye-opening, too. It was interesting to see the now humble beginnings that I remember from my youth and that of my children. I am still struggling to come to terms with the amount of stuff available, and was interested in the description Hamish used for the variety of different games, using the term SNAKS (Strategy, Narrative, Action, Knowledge, Social). The number of links for further exploration was terrific – certainly something to investigate.

Term 3 begins…

With holidays over all to soon, I arrived back at school on Monday to NO computer network, (also meaning no roll marking, or photocopying ), NO heating and almost no working telephones!  What a way to start the term!  Made for a fairly ordinary day, as you may well imagine.

After school we had a staff meeting, part of which was a brief  introduction to the Ultranet. For Government schools a PD day is to be held on 9 August, where all will be revealed – hopefully. The experiences we have had on this PD have made me much more confident with blogs, wikis, etc, to the point that the Ultranet is so far not looking  at all daunting. With the support of Judith and my new PLN, I am ready to embrace this new technology, and continue the supportive networking that I have come to depend on and appreciate on this course.  Thanks to you all 🙂

Holidays! Yay!


Originally uploaded by David Overton

Well I am feeling quite saintly now as I have caught up with lots of chores at home and also with my PLN course.
Off to Metung next week for a break away from everything. Lots of sleeping in, reading, playing Scrabble and watching the world go by. (It’s not just for the rich people, as per the photo caption – we don’t have a boat and are staying at the Holiday Village!)

Hope you are all enjoying your hols and look forward to Week 10’s activities and Elluminate session when we return 🙂

Week 9 – Pedagogy or technology?

I have enjoyed the readings on this topic, which certainly have provided food for thought. We are all aware that the speed of advancements in technology is incredible, and I am continually playing catch up. Although this course is introducing me to a huge range of tools and the application of them in my teaching, I realise that we are hardly touching the surface, and as I am typing this more new technological tools are being designed. It is overwhelming and I do wonder how educators can ever hope to keep up . Added to that, we are mostly digital immigrants, teaching technology to digital natives. That in itself is difficult, but is the reason we must put the focus on the content, not the tool. Maybe we could even ask the students to suggest the best tool to create, collaborate, share, etc the information we are working on?
Melissa Edwards, in Why use technology in education? remembers learning about a new technology tool and then figuring out what lesson it could be used in. Although this is not what we should be doing, in a way we are doing that in taking part in this course. We have been exposed to lots of tools and encouraged to think of ways to use them in our teaching. As long as the content is not lost, I think this is valid as a starting point. We certainly need to have a working knowledge of lots of tools  before we can make the decision as to what would  best enhance student learning.  I have mentioned before that I have  been using Wordle for a couple of years now as a book review tool for our Year 7  students. This started after a PD activity, and I just wanted to ‘play’ with it, but now I feel it has developed into a very valid activity. Students usually conference about their reading with the staff. This often leads to  a wordy recount of the story only, which is not the aim. The Wordle activity means the student needs to think about the genre, characters, plot, themes, issues, problem resolution, etc and describe it concisely to have their Wordle describe and promote the book. The students are forced to think a bit more deeply about their book, and enjoy the activity far more than a written or verbal book report.                                                                                                                     

Wordle: technology vs pedagogy

I was intersted in Will Richardson’s blog post discussing improving student achievement. Although I agree with his argument that we should be preparing our children to be able to solve problems for life, not just the test, this is  not possible while we have externally set VCE exams that are the requisite for University and further opportunities. The Naplan tests, the My school website of league tables and so on, all encourage schools to teach to the test. Even the introduction of laptop classes is an issue, as students are exposed to a variety of different web skills and  tools, but then are ‘tested’ by writing answers, essays, etc on a piece of paper with a pen! This is just one skill they need to practise to get the results they need in our current system. I certainly don’t have the answer to this problem, but I guess we must continue to ask ourselves whether our teaching is preparing the students for their lives, which will be very different from ours.

Week 8 – Part 2 – More Presentation tools

I commented in a previous post  (re: Google Search posters) that I was quite impressed with Glogster and will be playing with this a bit more. I like the fact that it is a private application and so there is not a safety issue with students accessing it.

I spent quite a bit of time fiddling with ToonDo. I’m sure the students would enjoy this, and can see it being used for various subjects, may be as a summing up tool, picking out a key theme in a novel, making a comment on an issue….   Sadly, I was unable to embed my cartoon into the blog. I have tried a variety of ways – even read the FAQs, which most of us only do when all else fails!. You MIGHT  be able to view my feeble attemp here. I’m not sure why it didn’t work, but will have to figure this out if we are going to promote and use it in class.

I am a big Wordle fan, and have been using it for a couple of years for a variety of purposes. I played with Tagxedo, and quite liked the shape idea. It was also quite easy to set up with the options down the side, but again, I was unable to embed it into the blog. (Maybe it’s ME??)  Pasted it into a Word page – no worries at all. Also I read that you can not actually print out your Tagxedo cloud yet. This is a great feature of Wordle. In fact we have a big display of Year 7 book review wordles on our pinboards at the moment – they look great and the kids love to see them up on the wall.

I have enjoyed my time with the Presentation tools we have looked at this week.  I am certainly going to continue using Wordle and can’t wait for the Animoto upgrade, as I would like to try this out with the students too. It’s probably my fave for the week.