Make a digital advent calendar

Liverpool museums advent calendar Image: Liverpool museums

The 2014 Liverpool museums advent calendar will be up and running soon. Advent calendars can be an important part of the year in some places but in a classroom it can be a way of making a significant technology celebration of discovery learning . Mr. Parkinson has shared how he gets his classes to make an advent calendar using iPads and these advent calendars are both personalised learning and impressive. There are instructions here about using Microsoft Office’s advent calendar template to make a digital advent calendar. Then there is a different approach you might like to explore at Nature Detectives. You could just use Powerpoint and insert numbers, then images or video clips and then animations. Have fun!

How do you teach collaboration?


Genuine participation

How do you teach collaboration? I have been thinking about this because it is now very much part of high powered learning  institutions and work places. Group work and working together can often mean one or two people do the work and others just warm the seat. Even if you create an assessment which shows up lack of participation , it will  not alter the down side of group work. I have just tried group presentation and assessment with my junior students. These are good students but they find it hard to work in groups to collaborate and find it hard to listen to individual presentations in front of the class. They have laptops and iPads and theses devices have ascendency over anyone or anything. These students were born in 2000. They are different and they learn quite differently. I told them of my plan for our last presentation of the year, went away and drew up the assessment rubrics and brought them back to class. My Year 9s took this very seriously and came up with some valid adjustments to the form. Yesterday we had the group presentations and I could not have predicted how absorbed and committed they were to serious presentation to their group and bona fide assessment. We had chosen our own groups of 4 and we had an electronic form to fill out and upload to the learner management system. They all participated. Their use of technology to present to each other was inventive and a cut above how we normally use it. They could see having a laptop meant they could really get some power out of being someone who had important information to share. They also understood that the assessment of each other was a good way to help each other and then encourage each other to do even better next time because the form has some clear indicators of performance. To complete the assessment we did our feedback on Twiducate. I asked the following questions:

1. Did you enjoy researching the French Revolution? Would you recommend it for next Year 9s?
2. Did you think the assessment form allowed you to have a fair assessment?
3. Did you like peer assessment? Is it a good way to be assessed?
4. Do you think you were given a fair and reasonable hearing?
5. Would you prefer to present to a small group or a whole class?
6. Anything else?

These are typical of the responses:

1. Researching about the French Revolution was difficult as there is so much inaccurate information on the internet as well as biased information. But it was good to research information about France and how the French Revolution has shaped the country and also has had an impact on the world.
2. I think the assessment form was good but there should be a more variety of choices instead of three- :) :/ :(
3. Peer assessment was fantastic as it was more relaxed and you could stop and people could talk or ask questions about what they think. I enjoyed it much more than class assessment.
4. I think everyone was given a fair chance
5. I prefer presenting in front of a small group as it is more relaxed and enjoyable.

1. Yes the French Revolution was a fun topic to research because the French Revolution was an interesting part of history.
2. Yes I believe so.
3. Peer assessment is a good form of marking because the students get to mark based on what they like/don’t like when it is usually the teacher.
4. I believe I was marked fairly.
5. A small group would be better to present to because your are more confident with a smaller group of students.
6. No

With their input I now have an even better group assessment form for next year.

Mobile technology delights

gaufre Mobile technology smoothed the way on an excursion today and played a very positive role. I had asked students to meet me at the back gate. I knew what I meant. Half went to the back gate I was at. The others went to another back gate. One student rang one in the other group and we quickly established why we weren’t all in the same place. Note to self…explain things even more clearly. We walked to the venue we had planned where we were going to enjoy gaufres (waffles ) or galettes (pancakes). The orders started arriving and looked spectacular. One student got out her phone and said , “I have to take a picture for my blog!” Win! I have made blogging a real part of their life. The phones came out and the photos of the food will be on their blogs this week I am sure. One girl was disappointed because she had a spectacular galette and couldn’t photograph it because her phone didn’t have a good camera. She was sitting next to me so I lent her my phone and said I would send the image to her over our learner management system tomorrow. She was so happy and repaid us on the way back to school. It was about 33C in Adelaide and so I took them a different way back to school so we were more in the shade of the big, beautiful trees in the area. Some students started to worry a little bit we might be lost. The girl got out her phone. “Don’t worry I have a good app which will show us where we are and where the school is!” In a minute she was showing them on her screen that we weren’t lost at all and that it was very easy to get back to school. The image was very clear and uncluttered so very good for navigation on foot. This is technology in action. It should be enhancing and helping whatever you are doing .It should be facilitating learning and exploring. When it becomes as natural as this then you can be well pleased. It’s what I believe and teach – time and place behaviour and then teach good uses for mobile technology so the poor uses of it are sidelined.

Collage apps

pic collage We are creating our dream bedrooms to label and write about. When you are learning housing vocabulary there is so much to learn. It is daunting. I soften it by using images in exercises and assignments. Students love working with images. With the iPads in Year 8 it’s been more of a challenge getting apps which will customise images so we can manipulate them for our own purposes. Two apps I recommended to the students which they love are Pic Collage and Photo Collage. Pic Collage has been a firm favourite for this assignment and the sorts of customised images the students are creating are both imaginative and have stimulated a lot of interest. This way they don’t mind at all when we do all the vocab practice. They want to know the words for their dream bedroom. They want to say them properly and they want to know the right word. Image apps can help you get the core classroom business in place very easily!

Teacher memes

what-i-look-like-if-youre-talking-while-im-talkingI use these in class sometimes because with 31 students and 31 devices it can get pretty busy and I have an interactive whiteboard. Students have been born in the year 2000 and they are more likely to be cued in visually. I find teacher memes underline the main tenets of my classroom and stop me from having to repeat myself. I can just put them up and in 20 seconds I have what I want. I also find they create goodwill and even if students persist in doing what you don’t want them to do … then eveyone is laughing about it because we have a meme in class now. Memes are powerful learning tools. When I get them out I also want to use the images in some way to develop vocabulary , expression and cultural understanding. There are plenty of memes to choose from here at

We weren’t downloaded

This clip by jiayong puts  things into perspective. Technology provides a whole new way of thinking about teaching and learning. We are in the real world making connections with real people but so many of us now have the capacity to engage online and have a virtual world which can seem limitless. I have students who build computers and learnt that from the internet. I have students with YouTube channels who promote their talents. I have students who write and publish their own books. Those are the ones I know about. Should I know what sorts of online success students are having? Is it something I could incorporate into my teaching and learning programmes? I know from getting my students to blog they can better understand the value of accumulating knowledge across 2 years and seeing how they have grown. They can also connect with each other and members of their community. It then becomes exciting for them when they realise that their blog can connect with the wider world and that people out here will support them positively in their learning. We do have to teach them how to live in the real world but benefit from the opportunities provided to them by the virtual world and connectivity is part of that. Sharing and getting feedback. I have had to teach students how to email me work or send me messages or work over the learner management system. With younger students I have to keep refreshing the screen to show them their work is uploaded onto the learner management system. In lots of ways they trust technology less than older students and older people…and in this case it is one year older! Year 8s are quite different form year 9s. It is also because Year 8s love seeing technology at work. The video makes you think about whether you are moving with the times, so to speak, and whether adaptability is part of your everyday life. Things are changing quickly and so adapting is becoming a very necessary skill and much of that is to do with knowing how to demonstrate your growth in learning through technology and also knowing how to recycle digital files and knowledge into new platforms and approaches. I have files from back in the early 90s but I can easily upgrade that information into a 2014 format when I want to. I am never stuck with a jaded and passé look. Students need to learn to save work so that they can grow it in future years. We haven’t really worked on a concept for doing that and we need to.

Have you got your paperless plan yet?

This is the last post I’ll do for now on the paperless classroom. We can stop using a million sheets of paper a year in our school. We can stop killing 9000 trees a year across a 1000 schools. We can stop putting 30 000 kg of carbon into the air across a thousand schools. We can stop lugging books around. We can stop panicking because the glue sticks are dry or the scissors are blunt or missing. We can stop cluttering our homes and offices with wads of paper and cardboard. We can have space and air and a back and arms which don’t hurt. We can teach anywhere because we just need a board and a connection. We can mark anywhere and don’t always need a wifi connection for that. My year 9s actually negotiated that they would hand in their work on THE USB. I have a special USB for them and they love coming to get THE USB off my desk. I can mark that work wherever I want.  I don’t find marking electronically takes longer. I thought it did but I did actually do test runs on that and compared equivalent “piles” of marking tasks. Initially you are not so adept at electronic marking and you have to factor that in. For senior students I like the comment feature on Word or a pdf doc or I highlight errors/dubious thinking in a different colour. My home doesn’t change anymore during intense marking phases. Nor does my desk get swamped but piles of books and papers. Students get a chance to produce different sorts of assignments and they like that. I get to mark movies, slide presentations, newsletters, images with text and not just writing on a blank sheet. I can get feedback from all my students so I hear all their thoughts and voices. In that sense student input is far more equitable and representative. Get your plan together. There is some good help on YouTube and on the Net. Do the classic set yourself goals approach and work on it one step at a time. It is more than just not using paper. It is a different approach and if you change yourself over gradually you will appreciate the implications of the difference. You are a teacher. You can see the teaching possibilities and opportunities in  anything.

How to go paperless

paperless classroomDon’t expect to go paperless straight away. Be prepared to work at it methodically and to work through the processes and discovery to find the best way . With some classes and age groups it is easier than others. I have to work with laptops and iPads and each has different challenges for freeing my classroom and my life from paper. The spectre of a power black out can be real to some teachers. I still have a white board I can use with the white board marker. If I had no paper AT ALL and no electricity I’d use the whiteboard and work on a whole class approach and then group work. I have worksheets in my cupboard but if I had none, I am a teacher. I can teach for a lesson without paper and books. Power black outs are rare so I am not running on the notion this is my focus for how I manage paperless. It’s important to have electronic copies of texts since they are the framework for your course. You then need electronic resources for each topic and unit – images, videos, docs.I make a lot of these resources and then they really do suit my clientele and I can change them easily to set the next group of students.  I also have time filler software, apps and online sites so we can do some boardwork together to get us settled into the lesson or we do some language and linguistic training online. We can do puzzles, grammar training, thinking. We have an online training site for our subject area too and the students can access than from any device at any time. Money we have save has gone into paying for this. It is critical to back your major resources up online and offline so I have my materials stored on my blog, YouTube, SlideShare, Pinterest etc and I have file backups on drives and other computers. Uploading finished work was the biggest challenge for me. We have OwnCloud for bigger files and we use our LMS. I also use Showbie with the year 8s and their iPads just for a change and that works well. I find with electronic resources I can tailor my lessons far better to the students I actually have. I am kept on track by my text and then the performance indicators for my subject and for my professional development. Electronic work can be shared and it can be used in a very positive way. Students can see their growth very clearly and they can see their learning gaps. We share our work on the IWB and in small groups and they like that. One of the real advantages of organising your materials electronically is that a new teacher to the course has a ready made set of resources to scaffold them into that area of teaching. That kind of support is vital to underpinning continuity and levels of learning for students.

My paperless classroom

paperless classroom

You , too, can live in the paperfree zone.

Image: Inside the classroom, outside the box!

I’m a recycler from way back. When we brought technology into our classrooms I was always going to be committed to running  a paper free environment because the planet does not have limitless resources and the advent of photocopiers and printers meant we were churning through non renewable resources at an alarming rate. Trees provide us with a healthier and more sustainable planet. Why would you chop them down and think there would not be a serious problem? This year I have finally properly achieved my practically paperless classroom. It gets held up by the fact we have paper based exams and official assessments. It came as great news to me when I saw ACARA was going to dare to put its NAPLAN testing online. Until we trial online testing and exams we won’t know what the problems are so we can address them. It’s really fantastic to see our national curriculum organisation show some leadership in this area and work on the methodical trials they have created to shift us from a paper dependent official testing system to an electronic one. The environment will be grateful. I shifted fairly easily from a paper based classroom to a non paper based one but it has taken time to work through some of the issues. Like what do you do when you receive work by email, on an LMS, on paper and on a USB? You go crazy, that’s what you do. Patience is required. I have always taken the problem back to my students. I have explained what happens to me when I get work in various ways. I negotiate with them. Our school has also been very helpful by extending the functionality of the LMS to include inline messaging. I can receive work that way from iPads and laptops and thereby do away with USBs altogether. I have all my resources on my laptop but they are backed up online, on USBs, on a portable drive and on another laptop. I do not take chances. The first step was getting electronic copies of the text and work books. That is backed up by electronic resources and blogs to link to resources and activities. All my work is online and so it can now do the job of covering student absence or extension work. Now that it is all established I find it to be a very flexible system which I can grow but also a system which caters better to a variety of learning modes and needs. I was prepared to find the work arounds and that preparedness to change is the headset you need. I haven’t expected I would be the one to find all the solutions. I ask if I am stuck. If I cannot think of a way to do something in a paperless way I put it out as a challenge. Technology always forces us to be nimble thinkers and pool our ideas. That’s why I like it. If you want more tips and resources for a paperless classroom, you can go to Inside the classroom, outside the box!

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

professional standards Given a lifetime of teaching I ought to know what I am doing and what I am capable of. I am working on a Powerpoint of the professional standards because I need to ensure I have currency. As time goes by you have to ensure you are up to date and in tune with your approach. The Professional Standards we have are a way of ensuring that since , given the layout, they can be updated as needed but as they stand they are solid indicators of performance and achievement. My focus is also to ensure I can meet the standards using technology. What I plan to do is take an indicator from each of the sections to calibrate myself. I want to test that what I am assuming about myself and the standards is actually what is occurring. Assumption can get you into a lot of trouble and on the wrong track so it is important to stick to an objective way of looking at your own performance. With respect to the standards, and because I am a classroom teacher now , then I probably have to be at the Highly Accomplished level. I have been in leadership positions so I ought to be able to fit into the Lead teacher category sometimes at least. On 1.1 I think I fit between both of them. I have worked on having a flexible repertoire for using technology in a classroom so that I can differentiate the curriculum and manage content delivery for a wide range of students and their learning styles. I use what I have learnt to share with other teachers both at school and on my blogs. I have so many strategies now for using technology in a classroom I am both a good resource and a pioneer.Sharing all this knowledge means I also have the capacity to attract new knowledge in this area and become someone whom others will share their ideas with because they know I am interested and will listen. That perhaps puts me more in the Lead category for this one. Having that information before me on a slide means I can think it through better rather than just guessing and assuming. In a professional conversation I’d be looking to have my decisions discussed so I can grow further and maybe even have a different perspective on what I am doing and thinking. To me this is a dynamic process not a static one. it ought not be a snapshot but looking through the performance standard lens to see what can be improved, changed, polished, maintained…

Set goals for your paperless classroom

Printing Not too many people are going to cry because you killed nearly 9 trees in a year with printing from devices. If you look at the stats from what could be a biggish school then you have to look at what will create change. Nearly a million pages in a year is something people will notice. Over two and a half thousand pages in a day is something people will react to. Over three thousand kg of carbon produced in a year is something to be concerned about and if that would pay the cost of over two hundred thousand hours of lighting then it’s something which can be changed to represent some real cost savings. Add photocopying to this and a biggish school has cold, hard information  which will stimulate alternative behaviours for a greener planet and a pool of money which can be used for educational purposes. Our school had a drive to stop us using so much electricity at one stage. We were given regular updates about our use and we were given goals to aim for. It worked. People like a challenge. Multiply these printing figures by a thousand and those schools are killing nearly 9000 trees a year. The very things which absorb carbon emissions. These schools are producing over 30, 000 kg of C02. Look at the stats for your school. Aim at reducing the printing output and convert that into images and information which people will take notice of so they change their behaviour. Information like this would make very compelling infographics. Add the cost of the paper to the list and there are real financial savings to be had . That money could be used to buy educational materials which the school can see it bought by thinking about printing and creating a greener environment. If you do the carbon offset approach because you cannot change printing, where are you going to plant those 8 trees every year? If you talk in terms of a thousand schools, where are you going to plant the eight thousand trees? We can do better. We need the information to set our goals so we can act on it.

The paperless classroom

It is a while since I have blogged about the paperless classroom but I can see we are starting to make inroads. It is nearly the end of 2014 so we ought to be. I’ll focus on paperless classrooms again for a bit because we need to move on, we need to be saving trees and we need to get away from the clutter and , I was going to say depression, of old papers and stationery. I hate the look of seas of preloved textbooks and resources which are just left to gather dust and nobody wants to move because we are all too busy and, besides, some dedicated teacher organised all those things now sitting drably on shelves and in cupboards and we don’t want to disrespect them. Shifting over to technology means lighter and brighter spaces, surfaces, views and a cost saving which can be reinvested in the future. Matthew Gudenius has created a video to show what a paperless classroom looks like. In other posts I’ll look at how I have achieved that. It is something you work towards methodically because there is quite a bit of learning and trouble shooting involved.

Social media level up

Social media has levelled up and brought us now a way of connecting so we can benefit ourselves and encourage each other. The video is 25 minutes but will explain how Fitocracy works. The notion of a small empire has now been created so we can build  virtual empires and collaborate for the benefit of members. Fitocracy is a fitness programme which is based on game theory but has the added bonus of allowing you to be part of a supportive, positive social community.This is a new way of looking at social media. It’s not a diversion or entertainment or the way to pass time. It is now possible to use the benefits of games and social media to generate apps and communities which can make a good difference in your life and where you can participate and make a difference in the lives of others. Fitocracy is free and can be used to improve your fitness on either Apple or Android devices. Fitocracy has around a million participants. Good way to motivate yourself and use your dead time to motivate others.

World Teachers’ Day Australia

International World Teachers’ day was October 5th and Unesco put out an interesting compilation of speeches urging the world to invest in its teachers. I have chosen the motivational video I found because teachers are all heart and I wish all my colleagues a Happy World Teachers’ Day. In South Australia we are celebrating it today.

Compare the size of two countries

mapfightWe wanted to compare the size of Australia and Quebec in class. It wasn’t an option on the other site I blogged about in Compare Two Countries. I found MapFight which offers quite a number of places to be compared. Once my class could see Quebec fitted into South Australia and then stretched into the Northern Territory they understood how big an area Quebec covers . These students know how big Australia is so to find something equally massive was impressive.

Geometry toolbox

geometry tools This is a basic online geometry toolbox for IWB and tablet use. I am not a maths teacher so I don’t know how useful it would be. It is recommended on the Teaching Ideas Facebook page and has hundreds of likes and shares so it probably fills a gap which teachers need. If you haven’t yet visited the Teaching Ideas site, then I encourage you to do so because it has so many practical ideas for the classroom. The Mr. Reddy site says this geometry toolbox might not work on mobile devices but if you read the comments on the Teaching Ideas site you can see this has not been as issue. This is the advantage of online sharing. You immediately get feedback about the merits or weaknesses of any pedagogical tools and sites. Mr. Reddy is a site which is designed to bring teaching resources to maths teachers.

Focus on your classroom space

Mr. Jai Gun transforms his classroom for younger students into a colourful and vibrant learning space. He has also put some good thought into how he made this video for us all to see. You can’t help thinking that this man is thinking about his lessons and performance standards as he is renovating his classroom space. It’s based on a creative use of paper and colour but the technology he has available can be seen. In a technology based classroom the whiteboard is usually the centre of attention at least for a good part of the lesson and then the students are using their own technology. You have to make that classroom real estate go to work and use the IWB in different ways for different purposes. There is a good post here from an IWB trainer to show you some basic concepts in rethinking how you use the space on your screen. We could do with more sharing of information as to how teachers use their technology and real spaces. The ways we interact with students using space is an interesting one to explore and would have better pedagogical benefits if we could share and grow ideas about productive uses of screens and rooms.

How to upload a picture onto Facebook

It is always easy when you know how. It is not always obvious when you don’t know how. I put any photos I want to load up onto Facebook onto my desktop first. This way I can just click on the desktop icon when I am in browse and then double click on the image. I don’t have to go hunting through folders. Phones and tablets are easier because you just use the share symbol and it will offer Facebook as an option.

Augmented reality cards

So, what do you offer a techie, a geek or a nerd as their birthday card? An augmented reality card! If you watch the video you can see how the future is going to develop in the classroom and at home. Augmented reality is going to play a greater role and we are going to have a lot of fun with what are now our print artefacts. We’ll have augmented reality cards, books, business cards, menus…You can see how science, art and literacy are bonding to create our new world. Is there at app for it? Yes! Try the birthday card AR.

Get onto Tackk

I haven’t used Tackk yet because I have just found out about it. The power of Twitter to bring me new ideas! I am certainly going to investigate this site. It would suit iPads perfectly. It would assist visual and written literacy and it would create some interesting marking! You can make the Tackk boards private or public, you can create boards through tagging to create a class board. Tackk is familiar ground. It is like Instagram, like Facebook, like Pinterest. It is very easy to create content which is both visual and written and then share that content. You can log in with various social media accounts and if you browse the Explore Tackks option you can see the sorts of content users are currently creating. Students who have an Edmodo account can log in with that otherwise it is probably better to get them to create an account with a school email and use that. Until more people use the site the educational potential won’t be tested . As the site grows and people use the site to publish content the possibilities will open up. At the moment it looks to be a very good site for creating shorter texts with pictures and I can see students loving this. You can also create stripped down blogs and I am certainly interested in exploring that option in an educational context since blogs are a powerful tool for demonstrating progress in learning. The tool bar at the top of the site handily and helpfully puts the Tackk content into convenient categories so while you are like me and working out exactly what you can do with Tackk you can investigate the content currently provided by other uses.

My iPad is having a spaz attack!

iPads in the classroom

iPads in the classroom

Well, that was fun. Friday double lesson is 2 hours of 31 year 8s and 31 iPads. We were week 1 , Term 4 and it was iPads behaving badly. Did I want to bring back the books and pens? No way ,but it was an interesting test of my skills to keep 31 students and their iPads on track no matter what. Unless things go wrong , you have no idea what you are capable of. I am capable of producing a lot of wires, talk and trouble shooting while I simultaneously keep my lesson going. To think I had given up multitasking. In crisis management mode you have to multitask and run the calm universe in parallel to the chaotic one. We were working. We were supposed to be creating a photo montage which we were labelling in French to load up onto the LMS . I had created the task that morning but the task showed Saturday’s date and one student spotted that. Well spotted and then it was on…

“Mrs. Woods, my iPad apps are jumping shut. Look! “ He appeared at my desk to demonstrate the offending iPad behaviour. “So, what do you think the problem is?” I asked. “My iPad is having a spaz attack.”

“Okay , so shut it down and start again and we’ll see. “ He did that but it was still misbehaving. It had 142 games apps updates to install and 15 other apps updates. He had numerous apps open. We closed those, cleared the cache and I got him to download a different document reader and all was fine for 5 minutes. “My iPad is flat.” I plugged in the charger and he sat on the other side of my desk.

My iPad has an exhausted stream. Look!” came the voice of another student. “Oh, now the battery has run out.” He borrowed my spare iPad and got on with the work. ” I can’t upload my file. Look, I’ll show you. “ This was another student. So we connected the iPad to my laptop, transferred the file and I logged into his LMS profile and he uploaded it in 2 seconds. That done, another student had exactly the same problem. Repeat process. In the meantime there was a student moaning and groaning because his iPad was so slow. “Close all your open applications, shut it down and start again.” Smiles this time. I thought that might have been it but this just kept going on all lesson and I had to keep swapping leads, connections, getting them to shut down and restart their iPads or use my laptop to transfer files and access things they couldn’t. The one student with a laptop couldn’t get on the Net so he had to see the technicians. Technology behaving badly. First week of term and it can only get better. It was a funny lesson , though. Year 8s will just adapt very quickly to any given situation and so you can manage these sorts of technology – based classroom chaos lessons quite well…if you just breathe deeply, smile lots and stay zen.

Use You Tube as a search engine

YouTube infographicIf YouTube were a country it would be the third largest in the world after India and China. It has a billion unique visitors a month and that probably explains why your YouTube clips are taking longer to upload. YouTube has to grow into its new self as second largest search engine on the planet. Some don’t think of using YouTube as a search engine. If I am looking for information I will look it up on Google and then YouTube. Doesn’t matter whether it’s information for my classroom or something to do with dog diseases and conditions. It could be recipes or a query about the benefits of magnesium. If I can’t do something I look it up on YouTube. I use YouTube all the time. It brings me knowledge, information, help and insight. It is often easier to look at a video clip of how to repair something than read pages of instructions. I am ever grateful to the thousands of people who make a video about how they solved a problem or the professionals who bring me information about knee exercises, the benefits of rebounding or how to draw a coffee cup. The infographic comes from mushroomwork networks and you can see a large copy of it on their site.

Google Tour Builder

David Lee explains simply and clearly how to use Google Tour Builder. My year 9s are doing presentations on Quebec and I asked them to try and use Tour Builder to create their assignment and then to talk us through the tour. They had to do it mainly in English but with some French. Tour Builder worked really well on the IWB and this is something which really kept the attention of those watching. Well worth trying out when you have an assignment which Tour Builder can facilitate. It has the sorts of visuals students like and is animated in a way they are used to.

Compare two countries


Australia is 14 times bigger than France.

This site,, allows you to compare the sizes of two countries and then gives you a little bit of information about both countries. Very handy for clearing up perceptions. A lot of people do not realise how huge Australia is and then many Australians don’t understand how small and densely populated other countries are. I got the link from the Teaching Ideas Facebook page, a site well worth subscribing to. It always has some really practical and relevant ideas for the classroom.

Got my Hallowe’en show on the road

Hallowe'en desktop I set up my desktop with suitable Hallowe’en images with text. It became a teaching resource today. Bottom right is the vocabulary image of the words we learnt. When I enlarged it there were two blank sections where I could write with the electronic pen. On one side I had details of the little task I wanted them to accomplish on their iPad. On the other side I had some other Hallowe’en vocabulary like how to say trick or treat in French (farce ou friandises). It meant the whole screen real estate was being used to good purpose. We looked and listened to a couple of little Hallowe’en French songs which had captions and a lot of vocabulary my Year 8s now know. They could follow along. We talked about Hallowe’en traditions in France and other countries and so , as we went along, they were becoming more interested and more absorbed. They just started learning and knowing the words. I shall be able to put these vocabulary words on our language learning site which will increase their anytime, anywhere learning based on what we have done in class. We are now making and labelling a little Hallowe’en montage which was helping them learn  to spell the words but which interested them because they liked all the Hallowe’en things we were doing. I structure a lesson to include images, my teaching from the front, videos, vocabulary and then some written work. With technology you can cover a lot of ground that way and supply extra learning which students can follow up out of class.

Are you ready for Hallowe’en?

halloween jar

Are you ready for Hallowe’en?

So , are you ready? Doesn’t matter if you are not because I’ll point you to some quick resources. I got the image from Room Mom 101. You’ll find a wealth of good ideas there and not just for Hallowe’en. Teacher Vision has spoiled you for choice with classroom printables, also suitable for whiteboard use ,and the site has kindly divided them into topics and subject related lists. I have then included the video because origami bats in black paper would be surely what everyone would want for Hallowe’en. The video goes slowly enough for you to follow as the presenter makes it.

Use Powerpoint as a Learning Tool

aitsl In Australia teachers have the Professional Teacher Standards which are available on the aitsl site along with a great number of other documents which you can download to support you with working with the standards. On the site there is also plenty of material to engage with which will help you understand what the standards look like in the real world with real teachers and students. There are also the iPhone and Android My Standards apps which you can download so that you have the standards handy on your phone or tablet. I have done all of that and downloaded the Demonstrating Impact pdf from the aitsl site and Demonstrating a Professional Mindset pdf. Both of these are interactive workbooks for teachers to work with the standards. First, I need to get this all clear in my head and even though I have been looking at the standards for quite some time now, if I want to seriously engage with them and make a solid effort to reflect on what I am doing I need to organise the material very clearly in my head. Just looking at documents and reading it all isn’t how I learn to put standards into practice and know my content. I have started a Powerpoint about the standards because it is the best way I know of learning complex material using technology. As I play with the layout and animations on each slide I am thinking about the content I am displaying. As I choose colours, backdrops, order of presentation I am forced to think about what the content means. This image is my first slide . In real life it is animated and as the information comes up the content is revealed in a way that I am neither swamped nor intimidated by it. When my Powerpoint is finished and you can see what I am doing I’ll share it with you. I get students to present information I want them to learn. Sometimes they can just take a photo from the board but if I want them to involve themselves with the material I get them to create a presentation. I then start to get very particular questions about what something means or whether they have it right. Powerpoint presentations encourage you to consider each and every aspect of what you are presenting as you compose the material on each slide. It naturally forces you to break learning down into bitesize pieces. KeyNote on the MacBook does exactly the same thing. By using Powerpoint as a learning tool I become immersed in my learning. It is not a clockwork exercise where I can tune out because I am creating visual learning. My next step is to look at individual indicators in the seven areas of Professional Standards:

1. Know students and how they learn

2. Know the  content and  how to teach it

3. Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning

4. Create and maintain supportive and safe learning

5. Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning

6. Engage in professional learning

7. Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community


tony robbinsAnthony Robbins is a life coach and a motivational speaker and this quote really meant something to me when I read it. This is a follow up to yesterday’s post on mastering your classroom because if it takes 10, 000 hours of practice to master something then with 30 students and 30 devices we have to be careful how we implement and organise everything. No time for faffing! So I started thinking and, as it turned out I think THINK is a good way to keep your technological classroom under control and vibrant:







T  Time your information, presentations, activities.
H  Hone your skills and theirs. Be good at what you do.
I   Innovate and inspire. Don’t fear change.
N  Nudge them along and nudge yourself to do something different..
K  Know what you are doing and what you want to achieve.

Master your classroom

mastery Image: EnhanceTV

In his  sociological studies book the Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell states we have to do something for 10 000 hours before we master it. For arguments sake, if you teach 30 1 hour lessons a week that will be1230 hours of lessons in a 41 week year. It would take you 8.13 years to clock up the 10 000 hours. Do teachers who have taught for less than ten years feel as though they have mastered their classroom? Depends on the school, depends on the classes and depends on what you are teaching. What about 30 students with 30 laptops or 30 iPads? Would you master that in 8.13 years? Distractions are then everywhere and part of mastering the technology classroom is mastering the art of harnessing the students AND their distractions. That is really complex. It becomes a matter of teaching them how to be selective about the media they consume so that it doesn’t swamp them and take over their cognition and time. The same applies to them: 10 000 hours of doing before they can master something. According to the findings  :

“The psychologists found a direct statistical relationship between hours of practice and achievement. No shortcuts. No naturals.”

It’s a matter of falling in love with practice. Being there and doing whatever it is you want to master. This is where the skills and knowledge of a teacher come into play. You have to know  clearly what you want to achieve and you have to have the time to do it. You have to know how to co ordinate 30 students and 30  devices for an hour or more at a time. You cannot do that without a plan nor without a mapped out curriculum and standards. If you want to be good at something it really is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.


1,500 times a day?

What is the matter with people? Why would you want to pick up your smartphone more that 1500 times a day? Apparently that is what the average smartphone user does. Read the article. If this is you, you really need this smartphone ergonomics video which I got via The Ergonomic Times. Good luck.

Read my post!

I didn’t want you to read my blog post anyway! Had I not been blogging for so long I’d maybe get worried that there seems to be a lot of comment about people have such an appalling attention span, they cannot even read a blog post. You get the impression that people are skating across the Net like lizards race across tall grass. lizard Not in my back garden. They just hang about in the sun. That’s the point. Make your blog worthwhile and then people will read it. Make your posts about what people need and want and they will read them. More importantly, blog for yourself. My blogs are there not only to help others, they are there to help me. They are my classroom back up, my knowledge back up, my interests back up. When people talk to me about something, I can invariably point them to a blog post these days or I can write one specifically for them and then email the link. It is about sharing what you know with whom you know and it comes back to you in followers, likes, comments and feedback. Farhad Manjoo has written a very funny and readable post at Slate about what happens to your posts when people are reading it. He backs it up with current information about reader patterns. I didn’t read it because I needed the information. I read it because ,as he wrote , he could show you how your readership was reacting according to the data he had. There is an article here on reviewzntips about why people don’t finish articles. As a classroom teacher one of the first things I teach my year 8 and 9 students is not to slide, pull , push, bang, flick, tap, click at a hundred km an hour and just fly around the screen of an iPad or laptop. Students often behave like this ,as do lizards ,just skating around everywhere. My job is to slow students down so they actually take in information and then use their lightning keyboard and screen skills in  planned research or activity challenges which are timed. They love the adrenalin rush of that and they love being on a mission but to really learn they need to slow down and take in information. Often they will do things too fast because that way they stay awake. Too many of them are too tired during the day and they have their coping skills for that. read my postThe video gives some really good tips for creating readable posts. Matt is very easy to follow and very positive in his approach. SocialMediaMonitors also has some good tips about how to write killer blog posts. Don’t focus on who is reading how much. Focus on connecting with others. Talk to them and then share your information wherever you can. You will build up followers and they will read your posts. Not everyone because your post isn’t what they are looking for. Plenty will stop by your blog and read. They will!

Pick your teacher quote

confucius It was an interesting exercise to look at the teacher quotes and decide which one represented me. In the end, I decided on this one from Confucius because I have never thought that as a teacher I am telling my students all there is to know. I am sharing what I know with them so that they can add to what I have offered them and make it grow from their own perspective. BestTeacherQuotes has a selection of printable quotes which you can use for your own purposes. Which one is you?

Upload a YouTube video

Uploading a YouTube video will depend on internet traffic, file size and the format of your video. YouTube gives information about slow uploading here. On the whole mp4 format, with mp3 sound and a resolution of 640×480 is fairly efficient unless you have picked the wrong time of day. So many more people are on YouTube. It has had an explosion of viewers, subscribers and uploaders. Eventually it will grow into its new, very popular size but that takes time. There is some good information here about how to upload a YouTube video. Watch the video. Derryl Eves walks you through the process quite well.

Deal with the trolls

The best way of dealing with trolls is – don’t. Avoid them, ignore them, block them, mute them and report them , if necessary. Recognising and dealing with trolls is dealt with very well here at TeamTechnology. It goes into detail and explains various types of trolls well. Lately there has been an upsurge of domination trolls. They may or may not be paid and their main purpose is to stop someone from just happily being on the internet doing what they are doing. It’s about frightening people away. I like the video clip I have put on here because Jason Urgo has a really nice manner and he talks to you as a normal person. He is talking specifically about YouTube but much of what he says has application to social media sites and forums as well. Some people just like to be nasty and vindictive. Others are really harsh and cruel. Some will use images. It is about control. It’s emotional abuse and if you do not have that clear in your head then take a look at a post I wrote about emotional abuse on one of my other blogs. That gives a very clear picture and some links. Not reacting is the key and not bothering is important and then, when you feel confident, you can do what Jason does and respond with pleasant politeness. I often say I am sorry they are having a bad day and not feeling too good. The number of really human reactions to that comment has been heartening. Not all trolls are vile people. They are just lashing out. trolls I have used my trolls picture . I have said, look, I have plenty of trolls , I don’t really need anymore. That has worked and you are welcome to use my troll picture too. Mostly I take no notice and delete and block . Every site has a different way of doing it so know your settings. Really vicious trolling can occasionally really get to you. It is important to talk about it straight away and say something on the social media site and name the troll. Their names are often a give away. If you find you are still not happy, then put your device or computer away and go outside into the real world. Talk to real people. Ring someone up. Go to the shops. Take the dog for a walk. Get the support of real life and the real world until you feel calm again. Guy Kawasaki also has some sound advice about dealing with trolls which is worth a look. Confidence is everything and then having a good anti troll toolkit.

Understanding internet culture

social media There is a reason John Atkinson at WrongHands has so many followers and his cartoons do the rounds. He has a really good understanding of internet culture and can encapsulate it very easily. With a few words and images he can portray our internet thinking. We are teaching post 2000 students now and a lot of their perceptions are coloured by the internet. We need ways and means of connecting with them and understanding how they make their own connections. The not Newton cartoon is a classic of how to describe something in a social media way. How we portray and perceive things on the internet can be quite different and it provides a layer of comprehension and linguistic complexity which can augment and complement real life as reading books and viewing films do. Enjoy his cartoons. Make sure you link back to his site and acknowledge him if you use the cartoons. That is all asks. Very generous.

Have you used Google Scholar?

expertvillage has prepared this little clip so you know how to find and use Google Scholar. What it does is search in journals, periodicals, academic resources to bring different and more particular information than if you were to use just Google. It will also teach students to broaden their searches and not just race each other to Wikipedia. I always try to move students to other search avenues so Google Scholar works because they  love Google as much as they love Wikipedia. Google Scholar can also provide legal information. If students use both Google, Google Scholar and other search engines you recommend, then your chances of seeing and hearing the same thing 20 times is minimised. I encourage wider research for my own sanity as much as anything.

iCloud eBook library

“Our mission is to serve and aid the public, students, and educators, by providing the world’s most complete collection of electronic books, documents, and articles online, as well as offer a variety of ebooksservices and resources that support and strengthen the instructional programs of education, elementary through post-baccalaureate studies.”

The World Public Library Association is the biggest eBook aggregation online and you can join for US 8.95 a year. You do not have to join. You can still listen to the audio books. The payment is for downloading pdf versions some of which might be free elsewhere. The advantage with this site is they have so much in one spot. The collections they have are impressive because they have a commitment to online literacy and social justice. There are mp3 audio books and pdf versions of print books. You need to browse the site for yourself since it is so huge. There are books available in different languages. It means you can read or listen to a book on any device. 21st century at last. To register, go here.

Free Public Domain Audio Books

sherlock holmesBooks Should Be Free has a huge selection of audio books in European and Asian languages. They are downloaded as mp3 or mp4 files so you can save them onto any device to listen to them. It’s nice to read a book but there are times where listening to a book is what you want. It means you can use them in class and play a part of the story to fill in those few spare minutes in a helpful way. Listening to books is often a way to help readers improve their reading skills as well. As these books are in the public domain then print copies will be available to download as well. Project Gutenberg would be a good place to start. One thing I’ll do with my choices is save them onto a USB and use them as an option to fill driving time along with the podcasts I regularly listen to.

Free 3D Modelling Software

This is pretty impressive. When you see how quickly and effectively Andrew Smith can work, then you know he knows his software and has put in hours and hours of training. Really high level learning in technology occurs when you have the software and the dedication to learn to use it properly. It then becomes a mix of skills, talent and imagination. 3D modelling is increasingly important as we shift to video as a major means of communication and entertainment. There is an ever increasing uptake of video skills and to create something original then the 3D modelling skills are essential since animation can play a significant role in any video project. This 3D modelling project is using 3D Studio Max by Autodesk. Autodesk works with educational institutions and offers a free version as well as the paid versions. The Apple version is Maya and you can see that in practice in the Minion Rigging tutorials. Autodesk has a significant user base which shares tutorials and tips. Autodesk itself offers really good support. You can’t just do 3D modelling. It requires application and mastering and then the explicit learning and subsequent creativity will follow. My students like to use the 123D Sculpt app on their iPads. It doesn’t have the complexity of the computer versions but it is handy in my classroom and has a wow factor for students. It is a good way to introduce them to 3D modelling but they’d have to follow up learning it in depth elsewhere. That is not what I am teaching. If you are going to use 3D software you need to be able to trial it properly. A month will not be enough. Autodesk offers free school versions which allow students to work on it properly and for you to know whether it is worth further outlay. There is plenty of other free 3D modelling software out there and sometimes it is a matter of finding the software which suits you. There are 7 seven to choose from here and 25 choices here.

Amuse yourself as you work

no writing errors were found

Error-free at last!

Working with technology can be intense so I have three little games I play with myself just to keep myself amused as I work. I wonder if others do? Most seem to slide off into games or other sites but I can work and keep my focus because I use the work as a means of distracting myself. It is surprisingly hard to get a message on a WordPress blog that the writing in your post is error free ! It’s a challenge to get this little message and it took quite some time before I even knew it existed. Some of it has to do with spelling conventions, some of it with names and acronyms, some of it with typos. When I get a message like this I feel I have won! Beat the coding for the site. Another little game I like to play is breaking Google. Not deliberately. That’s cheating. I love it when I put in a search and Google can find nothing. Absolutely nothing. With all the information on the planet Google cannot find one scrap of information to push my way. At that stage I have to lift my game and try to find another avenue of research or a connected piece of information which will lead me to what I want. My third little game is to be utterly amused by how some spellcheckers will find alternatives for my word and come up with the most preposterous suggestions. I wonder what we do do to challenge software and coders just to see what we can come up with. Coders can play the same game back by putting Easter Eggs in databases. You can get them in DVDs and games too.

Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch CTH-470

bamboo tabletYear 8s and Year 9s are drawn by pen tablets. They just are. For them it is highly desirable to use one and probably explains why they have really come back into fashion in a big way. They are popular in their own right with designers, digital artists, animators but students like them because they are a combination of pen, tablet and gesturing.  They are a specific device with specific purposes and so you cannot get diverted or side tracked. Students born in 2000 and beyond  have a new set of skills and skills combination. I have blogged about the pen tablets before. I was trying out one of the newer ones today and within 10 minutes there were students who wanted to know what it could do, what advantages it had, how much they cost, where they could get one and could it do this and could it do that. As a class we have looked at animation this term so we looked at the animation app and the students could see how you did it far better than I but I could see the possibilities and how we could use it for learning. They liked the thought they could write with this tablet in a very effective way and it is clear you could use this pen tablet to improve writing skills. Classic example of how to share technology experiences to drive the possibilities of the classroom! It really is sensitive to touch. I can use it to write with my normal handwriting but I need a bit more practice to get it up to normal speed. I don’t like the way the stylus is stored. It seems cosy and efficient but I couldn’t get it out. Too hard. Took me too long and hurt my hands. The other tablet I blogged about had a loose stylus. Having attached is a good idea but it needs to be done differently. The size of this tablet is better for portability , storage and the fact it just easy fits in a plastic folder bag or display folder. The connection wire detaches too which makes it better for portability and storage. I noticed this  tablet had wifi capability. You have to get the kit but it is not overly expensive. In a corporate network setting you would want to know if that kit worked or not. Large networks rightly have to be very security conscious. It would be handy in a classroom to have the wifi capability. It is about presenting in different ways and using different tools to bring out different skills. This tablet can work with a stylus or fingers. Students thought that was great. I loaded the Bamboo Paper app onto my iPad and then discovered that my fingers would work in producing quite fine writing with it. My stylus was better. So now I can mix and match devices and I think that is worth aiming for. It is important to have some consistency and familiarity with apps and software and then have a chance to branch out and vary because technology is always changing and we just need to flow with it.

Art is everywhere

Everybody loves this. They instinctively find it cool, expert and great to watch. They are learning. It may only have 87 views on YouTube but this video by Balkar Tamuçay has had close to a million likes on Facebook and well over 800,000 shares. It is teaching and learning of epic proportions because Balkar Tamuçay dared to share. He is well represented on social media in a visual way. He can take ingredients and his mind and blend them together with his skills to produce something which holds everyone in thrall. I love the internet. Without it I would not even know this man exists and I would be denied his talent ,skill and inspiration. I would be stopped from being able to share this with others and have the conversations I have had about how this video is affecting me and others in a profound way. I’d love to see what Balkar Tamuçay could do with the iPad and tablet art and paint apps. I am wondering if a touch screen would make his talent grow , stay the same or diminish. It’s a question of whether you have the right tools and avenues to shine. It’s about our professional standards too. Do we know our students and how they learn? Do we know if they have skills like Balkar Tamuçay? Are we able to inspire them to have skills like him? It’s also about differentiating the curriculum and providing students with the tools and opportunities they need to excel. It’s about using our technology to communicate effectively, selecting our resources and knowing how to create opportunities for effective feedback. Balkar Tamuçay is Turkish so it also revolves around sharing across cultures and looking at how different cultures engage with different mediums and how different people might need a different way of learning and engaging. What stands out strongly for me amongst all the other striking features of this video is that Facebook has been the right environment to create an opportunity for engagement and feedback. It has happened spontaneously and well. As a teacher, I really need to think about what I can do to create that sort of atmosphere for my students.

International Day of Peace

In the southern hemisphere, yesterday was the international day of peace which was established in 1981. The UN uses the blue dove as its symbol for this even. 21st September is the day :

The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”

Fortunately, with technology, we can connect to share and broaden our ideas.

Learn a language

You learn a language by talking. The more you talk , the better you get. You also have to listen carefully. With technology and , in particular mobile technology, we can learn a language when we want and however we want. We are not stuck with THE method. We can find a method which suits us and then we can connect to the internet and learn. Anywhere, anytime learning. These video clips for Japanese promote yet another good way of learning a language. As a language teacher, you cannot wander around the classroom when you are in the process of teaching the language. Students need to see your face and mouth. When you go to another country and try to understand and speak the language, you find yourself fixated on people’s mouths. They help you understand and they help you say things properly yourself. So, these YouTube clips present a good way of being able to focus on how you actually say something. You can see how the mouth is moved and you can hear the sounds. They are said at normal speed, in broken down sounds and then at normal speed. It is not the only way to learn but it’s a good way. It is good to see it as you say it too. Captioning is important. There is another sound file for this expression here. 良い一日を。Yoi ichinichi o

Best apps

best app This site has a list of the best apps for iOS and Android. It is divided into categories and then the site shows the  best app followed by the next best apps, so there is a pretty good selection of apps and some good recommendations if you are looking.

Why use a stylus?

I am with IrixGuy. I use a stylus because I don’t like messing up my screen! He is also right – if you use a stylus then you will enjoy it a whole lot more than you thought you would. IrixGuy covers the benefits of using a stylus well. He also allows you to understand that expensive is not necessarily better. I have found some cheap ones to be as good as ,and sometimes more effective than, my expensive one. One of my cheaper ones is a pen as well so that can be handy at times. I need to use a stylus, actually, and this is one of the things IrixGuy doesn’t cover. I have arthritis. On a bad day everyone is going to get rubbish text messages from me on my phone or ridiculous emails. On a bad day it is too much bother to fix the errors. Pressing and swiping can hurt. A stylus will help and I can use my phone and tablet far more effectively and more comfortably. I am using my hand eye co ordination. Some days my fingers just don’t really respond properly to direct surface work. The opposite is true on my computer. A keyboard is mightier than the pen for me because I can write faster and more effectively. With a stylus I can be faster, more accurate and get better detail where I need to. I am a classic klutz when I have to try and press on links with my fingers. I can’t do what students do and type with my thumbs because they would become inflamed. Students laugh when they see me trying to type on a flat screen but they are suitably impressed with my iPad set up which has a really nice keyboard and stylus. To them a stylus is the ultimate in poshness! I was able to try a stylus before I actually bought one. I think that is important. You have to be able to play around with one and see if it suits you and your needs. You also need a range. Android tablets and phones allow a broader range of styluses. iPads can be a bit picky but that is what you need to know. I always carry one with my phone incase I need it. Styluses keep the surface cleaner too and so they help protect you from all the germs I have blogged about which gather on glass surfaces when you use your fingers. IrixGuy also reminds you that sometimes you need to check your fingers and your stylus to make sure you have not picked up anything with which you can scratch a screen if you are in an area which might have “bits”. I am waiting for the day where fineline styluses will be the go. That will really increase tablet and smartphone options.

Epson 1400Wi whiteboard projector

Epson Tools I have had a good chance now to use the new Epson board in my classroom. I really like it. I like how you can use the whiteboard function without having to have the laptop connected. I like how it is quick and efficient to connect to the Apple TV and so I have a reliable wifi option for board connection. The tools/utilities are basic but are what most teachers would want and use. I downloaded another set of Epson Tools from the website and they run on my computer. I can run them in French. I think they look a bit classier than the ones supplied and the layout is better. It means I can preprepare material if I want to. I find the downloaded tools are better displayed and have some good options. The pen is effective but the writing is a bit too big for my liking. Students don’t seem to mind a bit. It forces me to think out my classroom delivery better and know very clearly how I shall present the material in steps. All of this can be saved to a USB or my laptop. I can connect a tablet or phone via USB connection to access files so that offers me more options. One of the best features is that I can split the board. I can run a video, my laptop desktop, a doc, an image or a slide presentation on one side and write on the other. This creates a very effective and optimum teaching /learning experience. I can put materials on one side of the board which will help the “live” thinking on the other half of the board. Scaffolding lessons this way has been really appreciated by students and it also means I can teach materials more effectively. Switching from desktop to whiteboard is also very easy whether I am at the board or at my desk. The Epson board has been good at supporting interactive learning. The sound quality is excellent no matter if I run a wired or Apple TV connection and students have valued that. Students also like presenting on the board. The images from their iPads or laptops are very clear, it has encouraged them to use sound more because they can hear how good the sound is and connecting them is easy. I run a VGA lead with adaptors for iPad 2 or 5 and then an HDMI connection to my laptop. Students can then choose iPad or laptop for their presentations. That makes them happy because they like choices and they can prepare presentations according to the devices and options they feel most comfortable with. What I also like about Epson is there is plenty of YouTube and on site support. Not as much as with the Promethean board but Epson is well represented online and that is important. What I now want is a very cool , cutting edge electronic pointer stick for the board – there is a lot of screen real estate there. A hand held electronic pointer would be good but not as fun.

Clean permanent marker from a whiteboard

I have blogged before about how to clean and restore a whiteboard. What if it’s permanent marker? And your electronic whiteboard? You walk into your classroom and your beautiful electronic board is covered in irremovable wisdom? A quick fix is to use a normal marker and go over the permanent marker and then wipe off. I find hand sanitizer wipes the absolutely best thing for cleaning any whiteboard. The man in this video explains how desperate you will get trying to clean a whiteboard and the lengths you will go to to get rid of permanent marker. The little white magic sponges with a bit of water work but the baking soda on a cloth is cheap and easy. We are creatures of habit. For years we have grabbed the marker and written on a whiteboard. We can’t always find a marker these days and will pick one up and maybe not check whether it is permanent or not. One of the real advantages of electronic whiteboards is that you have no situations like this. You can write with your electronic marker to your heart’s content and it all vanishes with the click of a button. You may also want to restore an old whiteboard. The baking soda followed by hand sanitizer wipes make an old, disgusting whiteboard come up like new. This way older boards can still see could service and help create more sustainable practices.

Bilingual brains are better

There is so much research to support language learning because it improves brain function. particularly the development of the hippocampus which encourages higher level thinking. I shared a video on how music engages all parts of the brain and that was in the form of an informative cartoon. This video on languages is someone talking. Since we use technology , we have a way of supplying content in different ways to encourage learning. There are quite a few videos on language learning and brain development. There are so many videos to choose from . Some use cartoons, some use graphical images of the brain and how it works, some use text and images. Think of your lesson as a meal. A short video or set of images can be the entrée and prepare the brain for learning. Know your audience. Some students respond better to cartoons, others like things which are upbeat with music and then others like a cheerful person talking them through the information. The video needs to be short and  look at key issues you want to tackle in your teaching. It needs to have things which students can think about and follow up with their own research. The video also needs to have audience appeal or it won’t work as a hook into your lesson and content. In a short space of time DNews provides a lot of information and things to think about language learning. You then think about how you will supply your information and then how you will finish it so you are creating a learning story and journey. We have a wealth of resources now we can access and we also have the means to make our own so we can tailor and customise according to our immediate needs. End your lesson on dessert…a little video , image or song which will create a good feeling about what they have learnt.