Powtoon presentations

French FilmWe decided we wanted to create a final year 10 assignment where students could take responsibility for their learning, decide how they would present it and build into it a way of revising key French language. It is important when you are learning a language to know how to say you are sick, ask for directions and generally manage yourself when you are lost. We wanted students to have choices with technology so they could use mobile technology, their laptops or a website. We have used Moovly and GoAnimate before but some of my students came back to PowToon which I had taught them how to use in Year 8. The site has improved considerably and they were able to complete their complex videos and have lots of choices of backgrounds, persona and other animation props. PowToonsThe PowToons animations were very good graphically , in terms of sequencing and the voice recordings were clear. Students had clearly had a lot of fun making these animations and it had made them very confident in their oral abilities. You can download a copy of the French short film creation1 here which is linked to the National Curriculum requirements. We also connected our learning to our online language learning site. When you can tie things together like that you can see how much progress we have made in classrooms in terms of promoting technology use, national curriculum and personalised learning. Some students used the LMS to send me the script and others had a voice recording for me to listen to. They were the ones choosing the ways in which they would improve their work and that is what we wanted as teachers. All year we had been filling them full of good things, we now wanted them to be confident learners. I was not disappointed with the results.

Hay Day – You can’t always get what you want


I have no cocoas. My cocoa trees are not ready for 15 hours and I cannot buy them. If they do not come up in the newspaper then I am in a cocoa free zone until the game gods provide with me cocoas. So, curiously enough, with an ultra modern game , I am learning the age old lesson of make do or, if you don’t have it, do without. It means one of my townsfolk is locked up until I bring him hot chocolate or set him free. Speaking of townsfolk, they can be incredible gluttons. They go into the diner and stuff their faces with cream cakes, strawberry cakes, chocolate cakes…pies, tarts. Same in the cinema. Four buttered popcorn, 3 fruit juices, 2 chocolate icecreams and even in the spa, where they are supposed to eat healthily, they’ll order 11 urns of milk or 10 pumpkin ! What is that all about? No wonder they have issues. Gluttony seems to be a way of life for them and every so often they mend their ways and order dainty portions . So the town is resource hungry . The fishing area is fun now because I have the lobster farm going they and they whizz out of the pool in gay abandon and launch themselves into the river. The animation with the animals in this game is excellent except for the cats and goats. The goats are ghoulish and scary. I could not bear to have them on my farm . Over the Hallowe’en period, when they decorated all the animals beautifully, the goats were wearing far too much mascara. Honestly, they are disturbing. The cats are very stiff legged and have starey eyes which makes them very unfeline. The other animals are perfect and the dogs just make me laugh. I am up to level 47 and in that time I have expanded the farm, built the town, extended the fishing area and am making quite a bit of money. It annoys me no end that I extend the farm to house dead trees and shrubs. It is ridiculous. I buy saws and axes and occasionally receive them through the game but you’d have to shell out some serious cash to keep control of it. Necessity is the mother of invention so I have learned to be creative with my dead things and have place them artistically around my farm but invariably use the extension I waited so long to get to put more dead things. It’s a challenge. Hay Day is a challenge. You cannot just mindlessly play it or you’ll fall foul of the traps. It forces you to keep your mental acuity in fine working order and it has certainly made me a better decision maker. It creates situations and problems which you have to resolve and it really does force you into learning how to make sound decisions and work with a positive plan and approach. When I run out of something like cocoas , though, it puts a block on the flow of the game. Maybe it is meant to, but it also means I leave the game and come here to blog about it.  As such, it does not allow you to become a person who wants what they want NOW. Bad luck I can’t get cocoas. In the meantime I have sold a lot of things, redecorated a whole area of the farm, redecorated my desktop for Christmas, cleared out one of my clogged email accounts and blogged. No cocoas means there has been diversity in my life  as I have been working around the problem and I now have  a totally clean email box.

Flipped Classroom Review

We have focussed on flipped classroom techniques this year at school and have been asked to review where we are at and what we are thinking. I have decided that videoing myself teaching is not something I want to do at the moment. Videos can be spliced, cut, pasted and reformatted and I have no control over that or what happens to my content.I need to think it through some more. If it is my teaching content and material you want to see then please enrol in my class or please come and visit. I create lessons for the class I am teaching and the day I am teaching them. I have a base of resources but lessons are created specifically for the students I am currently teaching. I will not teach -ER verbs the same to each year 8 class. In year 11 La Neige (snow) is an assignment which changes to the point of transmogrification with each Stage 1 group. I realised recently I have been doing the flipped classroom since the 70s. Karen de Beauvais and I used to meet on a Sunday afternoon at her place to record German teaching tapes for our students. On Monday we’d deliver them to the SSO in the library to put in the tape copier. We had a bank of tapes available in the resource centre so students could reinforce core material in their own time or fill in their learning gaps. Karen was a native speaker of German and so it was good to work with her. In French, there are so many resources made by France and French speaking Canada which support learning and content delivery. I have made my own presentations and videos but not of a lesson. For me, the flipped classroom is about personalised learning and social justice. We made those tapes in the 70s because we were working with disadvantaged students who needed homework resources. I am curating and collating out of class resources now because I work in 2015, the walls are easily removed and we can learn whenever we want to. What I do then for French is have banks of files which will support topics and themes and specific learning content. In 2015 we are not producing sausages and doing lessons as a job lot in hallowed lock step style. We can be whoever we are learning whatever we want. I now have resources so that I can create personalised learning for students. I can teach native speakers, students with specific learning needs , students who have English as their 3rd or fourth language and whoever else comes to my class because I can give them self help, self learning tools, files , videos which suit their learning style and needs. I can customise their learning because we can start in class and finish off our own way at home or start at home and pick it all up at the different levels in class. Flipped learning makes excellent use of technology , tools and talents. More importantly, it puts learning on a continuum . It goes to the heart of the aitsl standards:

1. Know students and how they learn
2. Know the content and how to teach it
3. Create and maintain safe and supportive learning environments

A lot of my French materials and ideas are on my ah oui? blog. With the files I have then I can do mix and match easily so that students can learn outside the classroom and I have found parents have responded really well to this electronic availability of learning. I can cover students who are elite sports people, or who have various illnesses or are away on trips. It is better if they are in class but it works really well to be able to flip the class for these students and see how much parents value it. It is also the reason I get my senior students to blog. It is how they process their personalised learning and I can feed into that.

That is what I am doing for French. I did create two videos for successful English assignments. I enjoyed making them and it made me want to teach English again. This approach is a great way to use our technology resources to build and extend learning outside the classroom walls. Isn’t that what flipped learning is about? Just walking through walls?

Candle Poem

A view from the top

Everyone needs a PLP and an IDP

learner_diagram Image: my-iPlan

In South Australia students develop a PLP as part of Stage 1 SACE (South Australian Certificate of Education). We  can work in different ways towards that from the time they walk into a school because it is not something which can be suddenly arranged and produced in Year 11. It is learning about organisation, capabilities, possibilities, collaboration. There are skills to be learned which help create an effective PLP. This provides foundation skills for life long learning and participation in one’s own development. Students can learn they are responsible for what happens to them and their future and that they can work positively towards that . They also realise helping others helps them. A personal learning plan now, though, has an additional meaning of tailored and customised learning. Why not? We live in the age of technology which is ubiquitous. Many of us have the capacity to engage with technology at any time and so can create a personal learning plan whenever we want. We can consider what we want to know and learn, how to go about it and where to get training or skills. How we learn new things has become so much easier and we do not have to be in an educational institution. Creating a PLP is part of a growth mindset. The Individual Development Plan is something I see as different. We have professional conversations at our school, we have Step 9 conversations as part of our system and we have different opportunities to engage with other teachers and our professional organisations. The way I see it , you have a discussion with others about who you are, what you stand for and what you have been doing. You can look at the professional standards, the assessment criteria for the national curriculum or you can use a video clip or article to promote discussion. Others will often see you in a different light. They will shine the light on the shiny spots and dig into the dingey corners. As you speak with them you can be reframing yourself and what you would like to do and achieve. You can say what you were thinking of doing and suddenly you have 10 more things to think about that you had not even considered. I accept it is hard to work 30 students through a PLP and then to look at an IDP would be huge. If we did that for all school staff it would be big! What if we made it a part of the culture? What if there were tools we could use to plan our learning and then our development? What if we learned that we are capable of taking responsibility for it ourselves but we need to be pointed in the right direction and we need opportunities to get feedback and input? The SAT and Self Reflection Tool on the  aitsl  site are good for that sort of thinking and responsibility for your own development. There are things there which we need to collate and promote. We could then go to the next stage of peer review in an online community!

Technology is intimidating

Technology is only intimidating if you are under pressure to use it and perform. It is a horrid experience to not know what you are doing and to stand before a lump of plastic with connections and feel spectacularly inadequate. I have  never had a fear of technology and if I am confronted with something I don’t understand I just press, tap, click , look…I especially look, until I see what happens and understand it. I was lucky in my formative years as a teacher I was in a school which enthusiastically embraced technology. So, in the mid seventies, we had visits from the Scotch company who showed us what would have been the first CDs and DVDs. Shiny disks which went into a machine and showed blurry video pictures. It was exciting and an eye opener. To be able to take on technology in an educational context you need the play time. You need the experts . You need an approach where you are encouraged to improve your competencies without feeling threatened. More than that you need discovery and talk time. We had OHPs to play with, pneumatic (:S) video players which quickly became VHS machines. We had film projectors which we had to get a licence to run and machines which projected images onto the wall. I remember getting students to enlarge German Snoopy cartoons with these and we had a wall of great  cartoon images which practised our German and involved us in active learning. Technology is functional but when you have time to explore it you do discover all the creative things it can do and the other options for functionality. The sales will come of themselves if people are allowed to discover what is available by way of gadgets and can spend time in an environment where experts are enthusiastic about what technological devices can do. Again it is about collaborating and sharing. Teachers need this opportunity too because as they look and learn they will also be thinking up a million ways to employ that tool.

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