Voicethread

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Photobucket Trial!!

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Glow Wiki Host Trial

Audio Trial

Alice

Video Trial

Glow Wiki trial

Voki Trial – Again..

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WeeMee Trial

This is my weemee

Trying this out!

I hope it works ūüôā

Welcome

Hi my name is louise and i am just testing this blog

 

 

 

 

hgggghjj

gghhhj

yuuuuiiiiiooo

hi world

 

my name is Jack and this is a tester

welcome


Hi my name is Abbie and I am just trying the blog.

Negotiated Learning

Very recently, I stumbled upon a comment on twitter by Oliver Quinlan about Negotiated Learning.

I followed a link to his blog and read this :

‚ÄúMr Quinlan‚Ķ can I show you something..?‚ÄĚ

You don’t have to have been teaching long to have had one of those moments; when a pupil brings you something amazing they have done of their own accord. When left to their own devices children and young people can often come up with the most exciting examples of their learning

I decided to introduce the idea to my Primary 6 stage class last week – and they loved it. I wanted to stress that the idea wasn’t about regurgitating what they already knew, but that the point was to learn something new then share this new learning with their peers.

¬† I quickly made a makeshift ‘first ideas’ proposal sheet for them to complete.

They were allowed to work on the task on their on, in pairs, or in small groups.

There was a buzz of excitement in the class as they all made their choices about what they were going to learn. The excitement obviously spilled to areas outwith the class, because the HT mentioned how she’d overheard some Primary 6s¬†discussing their ‘negotiated learning’. I hadn’t had the opportunity to share the concept with her … but I think she’s sold on the idea, too now ūüôā

Here’s some of the new learning that took place last week:

Safe and Responsible Use of the Internet

Last week Primary 6V¬†¬†hosted a ‘Safe and Responsible Use of the Internet’ information evening. I think the title is more meaningful than the usual ‘Internet Safety’ one. I chose it because (quite a while ago now) I¬†read a post on¬†Ollie Bray’s blog describing the subtle difference between the two phrases. I can’t find the link to Ollie’s¬†original post, but we did use some of the free Internet Safety and Responsible Use Cartoon Illustrations¬† he blogged about more recently – the class loved them!

 The aim of the evening was to enable the children to share:

  • how¬†they have been using Glow blogs and wikis in school and at home to improve learning
  • what they have learned about the dangers of the internet
  • strategies they use to keep themselves safe online

¬†I introduced the class to prezi and they all voted to use that instead of their powerpoint presentation. I’ve included a copy of it here.

It’s taken me longer than I’d intended to¬†blog about this.

I’ll also try to blog about our attempts at ‘Negotiated Learning’ before the end of term. The children are loving it – thanks to Oliver Quinlan for the idea ūüôā

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ePortfolios, Assessment and Transition Issues

btc5

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about a CPD session I attended on Building the Curriculum 5 : A Framework for Assessment while I was on secondment.

At the time, I wrote:

……We looked at how we might put this in to practice and were given a scenario so that we could assess an aspect of Literacy. After some discussion we looked at emerging approaches to assessment .

These come with a ‚Äėwarning‚Äô message:

‚ÄúHowever, in their day-to-day practice, practitioners would not be expected to document the assessment process for all learners in this kind of detail. It will be up to local authorities and establishments to decide how evidence of learning is to be captured, evaluated and used to inform next steps in learning and teaching.‚ÄĚ

At the time, I thought that, as it’s just not possible to provide that much detail about each student’s learning without compromising learning and teaching time, might we end up going back to paying lip-service to assessment (PLP’s, Self-assessment, Peer-assessment, etc.)?

I wondered what would happen if students were allowed (encouraged/trusted/guided?) to assess their own learning via ePortfolios?

Now that I’m back in class and have set up (emerging?) ePortfolios using Glow Wikis , I’m keeping an eye out to see how the students in my class are using them. Although the children all set out to record their achievements inside and outside of school – as demonstrated introductory statemements (Anna’s is embedded below), assessing your own learning is more complex.


Yesterday at school, however, I had an interesting conversation with Mason.

We’d been doing some work on decimals and I gave them a small slip of paper home with some examples (not something I would normally do – but the ‘homework’ issue is for another blog post!).

Mason mentioned that his was on his ePortfolio. I was confused at the time, but I was pleasantly surprised when I had a look later to see how he’d used his (boring?) homework and his ePortfolio as a vehicle to self-assess his learning in maths.

I am good at maths and I am especially good at decimals. I just started decimals a couple of days ago and I am finding it really easy to understand.Here is my maths homework from today (5.5.11).

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I took this picture with apple’s ipod touch 4th generation. I also enjoy doing adding. Out of adding,subtracting and dividing, adding would have to be my favourite. Fractions are my least favourite.My teacher,mrs.V told me and my class that decimals are easier than fractions.”

Thanks Mason – your ePortfolio post told me lots more about your understanding of decimals (and your ability/liking of photography) than your little slip of paper alone handed in on time would have done ūüôā

Although, like Jaye ,I’ve seen blogs and wikis peter out in the past when children move from Primary School to Secondary, I’m hoping that they won’t ‘wither on the vine in Secondary School’ this time as Jaye predicts in her recent comment on here .

My fingers are crossed that the children understand the potential of their ePortfolios and use them ‘just because’ .. just like Mason did ūüôā

ePortfolios and Transition Stages

My last post ended with a¬†remark about what the future holds for for our class emerging ePortfolios. I was delighted that Jaye Richards took the time to write an indepth comment¬†to the post shortly after reading it – it was Jaye, after all, who inadvertently led me to the concept of ePortfolios via twitter … and I’ve been sold on the idea ever since ūüôā

¬†I made an attempt to reply to her comment but after reading her follow-up blog post on the subject¬†and her thought-provoking accounts of her own experiences, I decided that another blog post on here was the best way to reply. She got me thinking about the stumbling blocks¬†that have been¬†encountered when children I’ve taught in the past have moved on to High School.¬†I also went on a trip down memory lane this evening and experienced (again) some of the frustrations that Jaye talks about in her post.¬† I’ll quote from Maryam’s transition blog posts to try to demonstrate what I mean.

  • Towards¬†the end of primary 7 at Carronshore, Maryam wrote on her blog:¬† ” My favourite thing ever is English. I love reading and writing. They are the only two things that are important too me. I have been writing quite alot of posts about reading and writing, well i just love writing and stuff.¬†…. I can’t wait to get to high school¬† to ask my English teacher for advice for getting really good ideas. “
  • In this blog post she describes the excitement as her entry to High School looms ever closer: “I can‚Äôt believe we have finished primary school already! Its a bit quick. Well we still have a couple of weeks left of school but it doesn‚Äôt feel like it. We are finally the oldest in Primary school but now we will be back to the youngest in high school. That‚Äôll be a bit hard. I‚Äôm looking forward too all the new lessons there and making new friends and stuff. I just cab‚Äôt wait for tommorow.”
  • Maryam is now in¬†1st year at high school (last term):¬† “I thought i would go on my blog just for old times sake. High school has been SOOO weird. It‚Äôs like i have been there all my life and not been to primary school once, but i have not forgotten primary school, I MISS IT SO MUCH. We have been doing all sorts of stuff and we have had sooo much .. drama? I think that is the word for it. It has been so BIZZARE. I have just chosen my subjects before the easter holidays. It was kind of depressing.”
  • ¬†Her¬†final post¬†on her blog was when she entered 2nd year (she’s already regretting her subject choice) “So yes, it has been almost a month of school and i am in second year. It is alot harder than i thought, well kind of. I did choose the subjects i wanted , [i still regret picking some of them]!”

Maryam’s posts dried up soon after this, but her¬†experience¬†of her transition to High School echo the thoughts in Jaye’s post¬†¬†when she¬†wrote:

¬†“my old school is now making children choose their examinable subjects two thirds of the way through S1 !!

If I had my way, they wouldn‚Äôt even get ‚Äėdistinct‚Äô subjects until S3‚Ķ”

Hmmm!!

Anyway¬†– back to my¬†post title! –¬†¬†ePortfolios and Transition Stages.

 

I’m hoping that the ePortfolios might succeed where the blogs alone failed. Maybe if the children know that the purpose of them is to demonstrate progress in their learning journey, then the responsibility for the upkeep and the freedom to choose what is included would enhance the feeling of ownership. The wikis seem to accommodate the ‘growth’ aspect more than a blog (even with tagging, etc).

I love the way Kian has already set his pages up for Primary 7 and his transition to High School.  All the children choose their own layout and this one obviously made more sense to him.

I also really like his ‘Life Achievement’ section – others have used this phrase when referring to their ePortfolios. Check out Alyson’s ‘sticky’ post on her Glow Blog ūüôā

Click on the loveheart to see my ePortfolio.I have all my achievements  inside and outside school!!!

(All my achievement through out my life) Fingers cross it works!!!

I also really like Andrew’s ePortfolio layout. He felt it was important to include a page with links to his favourite Glow Blog posts:

I have a blog as well as this ePortfolio. Click here to visit it. I am going to put some of my favourite blog posts in this section of my ePortfolio. So use the links in the banners below to view my best blog posts.

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The children are already asking questions about what will happen to their Glow Blogs and Wikis when they move on to Primary 7 and then on to High School.

Ideally, I’d like to¬†support them for¬†one more year to continue to provide feedback …… but that’s not for me¬†to decide ūüôā¬†

Feedback is a very important ingredient if an ePortfolio is to succeed. It’s mostly oral in Primary, but the wikis have a comment facility that could be used by Secondary staff in S1 and beyond?

Too many questions still unanswered – time to publish ūüôā

Glow Blogs and Wikis – A Closer Look

¬†There’s been a lull on here of late¬†because I’ve been taking time to observe what’s been happening with our individual class¬†Glow Blogs¬† and Glow Wikis. I’m hoping that the process of writing this blog post will everything intp perspective ūüôā

Our Individual Blogs

@cpsprimary6v usually update their Glow blogs from home, rather than at school. I think there are two main reasons for this:

  • We have¬†two hours a week in our school computer suite – and the children need to share the 16 machines (it’s a class of 30) – we have been known to beg, steal and borrow it at other times, too, but there are so many exciting things to do there, that there is rarely time to put on blog posts :-). We have a computer in the class, but that’s usually taken up with other things such as AR Reading and Smartboard use
  • From the outset, I made the decision not to dictate how the children used their blogs. I’ve blogged before¬†about the importance of a feeling of ownership if online spaces are to be sustainable. There have been lots of great posts made from home and we always share them in class. This has inspired others to write their own blog posts – and even just reading them out aloud has helped the writers and the listeners to think about how they might improve their writing. One very recent example for me of a feeling of ownership was when Mason¬†chose to share his experience of travelling to Qatar to visit his dad¬† great ūüôā

Our Individual Wikis

The growth of our Glow wikis has been slower. The children understood the blog¬†‘Online Diary’ concept but building an ePortfolio is much more complex and¬†I’ve been taking a closer look to see what’s happening. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that there has been evidence of:

  • Gathering evidence of Learning and Achievement –¬†For example, Robyn posted her Burns’ poetry comptetition entry and continued to update her Glow wiki from home. Have a look/listen – Robyn’s ePortfolio¬†.

 

I was also very impressed last week when Andrew  suggested that he could add his thoughts about his love of books to his ePortfolio. He wrote:    

“I have always loved reading and I have a card for the local library. At school we do a thing called AR Reading. It’s where you take a test at the start of the year and get given a level. You then choose a book from our school within that level and read it. Once you have read it you take a test about the book on a computer at school. You then print out a sheet showing your result. You have a big jotter where you record what books you have read and score you got on the tests. I am on the highest level for AR Reading, and I enjoy it.”

  • Showing evidence of how learning has progressed – reflecting on learning – Andrew¬† wrote¬†about his attitude to maths and how he has “..¬†enjoyed maths from Primary 1 and have always tried hard in it. I find the work I do fun and I learn new things all the time. My favourite thing in math is long multiplication. My mum and dad taught me how to do long multiplication in P4. I can do most things I have been taught in math but there is a few things I could improve on. I mainly struggle on Rotational Symmetry, but I don’t think you will need to know that in life.”

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Charlotte also showed evidence of reflecting¬†when she wrote about¬†how she found it hard to work with someone else on a task – “Well at first we¬† could not agree on an idea but then we finally came to a compromise that we would combine both our ideas.”

What I’ve learned

I think¬†allowing the children to use their Glow blogs and wikis in this way has provided me with evidence for assessment¬†–¬†I’ve seen a closer ‘snapshot’ of who they are. The children have shown evidence of achievements both inside and outside of school. Anna’s example is typical of an outside school achievement:

…..”We did our floor routine’s first. The judge would judge us on how slowly and neatly our routines were done. After that it was the volt. What I did was run, and then jump on a spring board, then land in squat jump onto the volt and then straight jump off. One of our coaches were compeeting. Then it was the award ceremony. It was team points. I kept saying to Alyson ‘ Were never going to win because we have 2 people and they have 3 or 4 ‘. In the award ceromony it was the 1-3 resuts, then 4-5 and then my one 6-7. I wasn’t even listening when the man called out the results because there was no chance we had one a medal because only the 3rd, 2nd and 1st got a medal. I heard the man say ‘Alyson’. It was then that I relised we had one a bronze medal! …”

… I’m already filling my head with more questions – I wonder what will happen to their ePortfolios in Primary 7 … and¬†the S1 transition period. Hopefully they will¬†survive as it’s the children themselves who are ‘in the driving seat’ ūüôā

 

 

Suncloud Trial

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Glow Wikis, ePortfolios and Longevity

At time of writing my case study, I decided not to dictate how the children should use their individual blogs. During the research period, I contacted Jackie Marsh  Рand she agreed (I gained permission at the time to quote her):

“I have had a look at the blogs and they are great! I like the way you are
letting the children drive the use of the blogs, that is so important if they
are going to be successful. “

She also mentioned how we were using them on a post on her own blog at the time :

“I am speaking at the BFI ‘Reading on Screen’ conference for teachers tomorrow and although my main aim is to report on the evaluation of the very successful BFI ‘Lead Practioners Project’, I do want to highlight the potential that blogs have for disseminating children’s film productions and facilitating their peers’ critical comments on the films. I was contacted a few weeks ago by Margaret Vass, who is a Primary 7 class teacher at Carronshore Primary School, Falkirk. She told me about the excellent blog she has set up for the children in her class – I really like the children’s ‘WeeMees‘ and love the Voki posting developed by Bethany…blog on, Carronshore Primary 7!”

Bethany’s Voki on edublogs blog is missing now – what a shame ūüôĀ

At the time, all of the Primary 7’s interviewed their parents so that they could write about their early years (as part of an autobiography).

Luckily I can still access the Vokis. Bethany’s is here:

Issues of this sort of thing happening have been discussed on this blog previously. 

I still remember the unfortunate incident that led to the decision to transfer the children’s blogs from learnerblogs to edublogs. Edublogs chose to have all new blogs, including pupil blogs, hosted at edublogs. It was made clear that all existing learnerblogs could, if chosen, remain where they were. Around the time of this announcement, however, spam comments began to appear on a few of the children’s blogs. Email alerts usually ensured that these were deleted promptly. On one particular occasion, though, one was noticed by a pupil in her comment moderation queue when she logged in to her blog. Unfortunately, it contained very inappropriate content.

It was a lot of work moving the children’s blogs from learnerblogs to edublogs …. and then edublogs let us down.

Recently I’ve ¬†spent some time reflecting on the journey to give children a more stable online environment and I revisited this post and a thought-provoking comment from David Gilmour

“This is a good topic to debate, thanks for spending your Saturday night doing such a detailed post!

I’m really pleased that Marc got such a good audience for his writing.

Another aspect to this, which cropped up this week for us with the demise of Bubbleshare.com, is the longevity of Web 2.0 services. Inevitably there‚Äôs an element of risk in using these free services, and we‚Äôve accepted that. For the schools involved, we‚Äôve had a lot of useful learning ‚Äď and fun ‚Äď from it. The slideshows will vanish from the sites, but they‚Äôve probably served their purpose and copies of the original images will still be on disk in the schools.

With portfolios that are needed long-term, though, we‚Äôll need to be careful to take such risks into account.”

¬†Now that I’ve finally set up some ePortfolios with the class I have now, I’m hoping that ¬†Glow¬†will provide the stability we’re after.

And if it doesn’t – at least we’ll be sure to back up all the files as using the new¬†Glow Wikis means that¬†there’s no need to¬†host content¬†elsewhere.

Check out Anna’s ePortfolio¬†– hopefully it’s just the beginning ūüôā

Glow Wiki and ePortfolio Update

Well, it’s taken a while to create something that looks like an ePortfolio for an upper Primary aged class – but I think I’m getting there. When I first heard of the concept, I wrote a blog post on here and I like to revisit it now and then to make sure that I’m not cheating and calling something an ePortfolio when it clearly isn’t. The original post is here.

I wrote that post while on secondment, and it helps that I now have my own Primary 6 class to experiment with ūüôā Much of what we’ve been up to can be seen on the pages of our class blog¬†– but I thought it might be a good idea to record the recent ePortfolio journey on here.

My previous post explained¬†my thinking behind using Glow wikis as ePortfolios and here’s the story about how things are going so far:

When I first introduced Glow wikis as ePortfolios, Andrew wrote:

“Hi everyone! Welcome to my ePortfolio. Well, this is actually a GlowWiki but I am using it as¬†an ePortfolio. Incase you were wondering, an ePortfolio is something online where you record your achievements throughout the years. You can use it to get a job when you grow up as well. So if you want to view all my achievements throughout the years, click on the pages to the left, or use the links on the banners below.”

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Others have also begun recording their achievements. For example, Anna was keen to record her class talk about her cat called Pepper and she made a reconstruction of her original talk so that she could add it to her ePortfolio. Have a look/listen here

And, as part of our Victorian’s project, the class were asked to interview an older member of their family so that they could get a sense of the past. Brooke uploaded her interview with her Gran to her ePortfolio. Have a listen:¬† Brooke interviews her Gran about schooldays in the past

Ryan, on the other hand, was less taken with the idea:

“Hi my name is ryan r and I am new to the eportfoio and I do not know what to do on it. Hopefully my friend Jack D the expert can help me.”

His attitude changed, though, when he¬†saw that others had been recording outside school achievements.¬† Some have started bringing in trophies and medals so that we can have photographic evidence to upload. Check out¬†Lucy’s TaeKwonDo narrated slideshow

After seeing these, Ryan was keen to show off  his own achievements outside of school and brought in some of his football trophies. With help from others,  he managed to update his own ePortfolio and record his football achievements on photostory 3

There are more Glow wiki examples I could link to, but what I’m hoping is that the children will see the connection between their Glow wikis and they great posts¬†they’ve been adding to their Glog blogs. There are lots and lots of examples of great blog posts, but I’ll link to Mason’s one about finding a reading book about his favourite film ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. I didn’t know that Mason liked the film … or the book ūüôā Mason’s blog post is here.

Their¬†story writing, started on their wikispaces during their ‘pre Glow wiki era’, should also be included. The Terrible Time Machine is a great example. Read it here.¬†¬†¬†

We’ve also recently set up a class Glow wiki so that the children can demonstrate their ability to work with others.

 Check out our first task here: Our Writing Task

Eight groups are involved. The Billionaires have completed some of the tasks. Have a look.

More to come ūüôā

Voki Trial

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Gran and Grandad’s School Days

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Our Glow Wikis – So Far

The class now have their own Glow Wikis. I’d been waiting patiently for their launch to assess their suitability for use as an ePortfolio. I’d played around with the idea of using wikis as an ePortfolio last year while I was on secondment and wrote a couple of blog posts about the ‘experiment’. One of these can be seen here.

While I was waiting for the Glow Wikis to make an appearance, I toyed with the idea of using the Glow Blogs as ePortfolios. The children seemed a bit bamboozled by the prospect, however, and I suspect that it was because they had been using these online spaces as a traditional weblog and found it difficult to make the connection.

I created a ‘sticky’ post and linked to pages on the sidebar. The ‘Sticky’ said:

Welcome To My ePortfolio

This is my Learning Space where I blog about things I’m interested in.

I also record my achievements inside and outside of school. Click HERE to read about them

I knew from the reaction that there was confusion and when Andrew changed his Sticky wording, I realised that they didn’t see the blogs as an ePortfolio:

Hi everyone! Mrs V gave us all ePortfolios!

An ePortfolio is a page on your blog where you record your achievements in and out of school. Click HERE to read about them.

                                                                                                    

¬†Even with that subtle change of emphasis, though, no-one added anything to the ‘ePortfolio section’ of their blog.

But now that they’ve been given a Glow Wiki as an ePortfolio,¬†everyone in the class seems taken with the idea.

There¬†have been¬†some frustrating glitches … but¬†so far these have been overshadowed by¬†the¬†positives.

I’m really¬†looking forward to seeing where this leads ūüôā

In case anyone is interested, here’s how I set up our Glow Wiki eportfolios:

In the ¬†‘My Glow’ area, I added the Glow Wiki webpart.

I asked our school secretary (our ASM) to turn on the rights for me to set up a wiki.

I’ve since learned that @claganach, our ICT Curriculum Development Officer had turned them on for the whole school – thanks Malcolm ūüôā

I decided to set my trial Wiki to¬†public immediately because I wanted to be sure that¬†when it was live it would ‘behave’ the way I expected it to .. if that makes sense??

I soon discovered that it differed from the class blogs and from the wikispaces I’d¬†experimented with previously. I still can’t¬†embed videos etc. hosted elsewhere¬†into the Glow Wiki and any links using the link icon require viewers to be logged in to Glow to view them.

I’ve been finding ways around these hiccups, though.

For example:

  • Uploading pictures is quite straightforward
  • Although I haven’t discovered how to embed media in Glow blogs, the children can easily upload videos, podcasts, etc without the need to host elsewhere
  • It’s possible to create links to other areas of the wiki if¬†tinyurl is used to create the links. I’ve no idea why this is the case – but if any Glow experts can help me find the answer to this, the children in my class will be forever in your debt ūüôā¬†
  • The wiki URLs are very long so I’ve created a link to them on a page on our class blog. I think this also tends to create a sense of class community as everything we have is more connected.
  • It was also very easy to copy and paste these links into a text editor webpart in my ‘My Glow’ area.

The children set up their Glow wikis in the same way as their Glow blogs were set up. 

I’m glad that I set up our Glow blogs in the way that I did as it meant that I was already a member of the children’s ‘My Glow’ area so I was automatically an administrator of their Wikis as well.

I’ll keep posting about how our Glow ePortfolios progress, and meanwhile I’d love to hear back from any ‘Glow in the Know’ folk who have solutions to the linking and embedding issues ūüôā

Assessing Our Glow Blogs

¬†From Jack’s first blog post in August this session, I was optimistic that the class would make use of their online spaces.

Jack’s post was very short and to the point.

He wrote: 

“Hello mighty world ( that‚Äôs full of random people watching me on my blog ). Watch and see what happen‚Äôs because im full of good ideas.”

The class have now had their Glow blogs for less than four months, but a lot has happened in that short time and I thought that I would write this post as a reminder of the direction we seem to be going in.

I made the decision to allow the children to have complete control over the content of their blog posts. I was aware of how much more successful this approach is compared to directing the children to write about specific subjects when I carried out a case study of my use of blogs a couple of years ago. 

I am also satisfied that the¬†children (and their parents/carers)¬†recognise the responsibilities of having a blog and that they all understand the reasons behind our ‘Blogging Rules’.

These are embedded in a page on their blogs as a reminder.

Their blog posts have been very varied Рsome about the school Reading Scheme  , others on the subject of achievements outside of school,  or a family holiday.

Of course, there¬†have been¬†the¬†inevitable football posts!¬†Some just show random¬†pictures ,¬†and¬†a post from Kian about Falkirk Football Club Matches received 8 comments …¬† I’ve no idea of the significance of them (apart from the first one, of course!). Football has, however, inspired some¬†super blog posts like this one from Andrew¬†.¬†Although Sean is a reluctant writer, he was motivated to write a great blog post¬† about his first time at a big football match – and delighted at the encouraging comments from teachers in other Authorities. But this comment from Jade caught my eye:

”¬†Well done sean,you have won my post of the week Competition,you might win again next week,if other people do a better one well you will just have to do another one but it is fine because you can win more than 3 times in a row!”

It alerted me to the fact that the children were actually reading each others’ posts. New blog posts were also appearing to back this up:

“Hello!,welcome back to the best post of the week! HERE is a link to the winner‚Äôs blog. The winner is Lewis with his post about Admivore,with an astonishing, 7 comments! he was tied with sean but he had more in his post! sorry sean, the finalests were Brooke,Anna,Lucy N,sean Lewis,natasha,Ryan R and Mason,they were all great this week so it was hard, but only one person could of won sorry everyone!”

One of the posts that was voted as a ‘winner’ was by Natasha. She had been off school recovering from an operation on her foot. It was a great way for her to keep in touch with her peers, and there are 16 comments on the post now. At the end of the post, she mentioned how much she was going to miss not being able to go on our¬†impending trip to the Glasgow Science Centre:

“MY mum say‚Äôs¬†I probably wont go on the trip D: because if I cant walk then I cant get to school therefore I cant go on the trip D: and if I cant then please DONT tell me what happened because if you do I‚Äôm gonna feel REALLY bad because¬†I didn‚Äôt get to enjoy it but I hope everyone has a good time if¬†I don‚Äôt make it”

As a result of her writing that post, the school:

  • Contacted the Science Centre and arranged for a wheel chair to be available for her
  • Phoned her mum to ask if she was available to accompany Natasha on the trip
  • Arranged for the janitor to pick Natasha up at home and drop her off at the bus that would take us to Glasgow and then meet her off the bus again to drive her home (mum doesn’t have a car).

What a nice way to end my assessment of our Glow blogging so far …¬†Natasha was VERY pleased she’d written that post and she followed it with a Thank You¬†to all her classmates:

“Ok i‚Äôll start off with Thanks peeps for all the comments. I really appriciate it!!! Ive read all of them and trieing to reply to them.¬†¬†Anyway WOOHOO¬†I can go on the trip tomorrow!!! YAY The janny will drive over here then drive over to the bus.¬†I will then limp/hop into the bus then sit down when we get there (BTW my mum has to come) and¬†I hop/limp into the science center. Theres a wheelchair¬†I sit in it and my mum wheels me around!!! Thanks Guys!”

There have been some great benefits to our Blogging Journey, but so far this¬†response to one of the Glow blog posts¬†has been the ‘icing on the cake’ ūüôā

Rambling On About ePortfolios Again

I’ve been pondering what needs to be done to create long-lasting ePortfolios for my class. They are in Primary 6 at the moment, and I need to be realistic and assume that the chances are that their Primary 7 teacher¬†won’t¬† be as involved as I am with their individual blogs – or any ePortfolio set-up.

Last session, while on secondment, I spent a few afternoons with some Primary 6 stage children and set up wikispaces for them. I wanted to gauge how appropriate they would be if used as an ePortfolio.  

Jaimey was very keen to keep hers going, and continued to add bits and pieces to it in Primary 7, but with no teacher input, her interest is waning. The ideal scenario¬†(for me, anyway!) would be that¬†there was¬†an Authority-wide strategy in place to promote the advantages of¬† creating ePortfolios and that appropriate CPD opportunities were made available … ‘blue sky’ thinking ūüôā

The image on here links to¬†Jaimey’s wiki.

But other issues need to be taken into consideration when planning to build ePortfolios. I initially¬†chose¬†wikispaces because the service is free and I liked the way that they¬†looked (I’m referring to the sidebar menus).

However, when I first investigeted ePortfolio Portability and Longevity Issues  on here, David Gilmour  commented:

“Another aspect to this, which cropped up this week for us with the demise of Bubbleshare.com, is the longevity of Web 2.0 services. Inevitably there‚Äôs an element of risk in using these free services, and we‚Äôve accepted that. For the schools involved, we‚Äôve had a lot of useful learning ‚Äď and fun ‚Äď from it. The slideshows will vanish from the sites, but they‚Äôve probably served their purpose and copies of the original images will still be on disk in the schools.

With portfolios that are needed long-term, though, we‚Äôll need to be careful to take such risks into account.”

I understand what David means and¬†I envy the eduBuzz blogs¬†set up. But, as we don’t have something like this in place in my own Local Authority,¬†I thought that wikispaces¬†, a¬†great ‘web 2.0 service’ (can¬†I still use that phrase?) seemed like a good alternative.

This session, however, I’ve set up¬†Glow Blogs¬†for all the children in my class, and I have been pleasantly surprised at their enthusiasm so far. Until recently, I thought that the best idea to¬†build ePortfolios was to create a link from their blog to a wikispace with a set-up similar to the one above. But I’ve since thought about creating a ‘Sticky’ post with links to other areas in their blogs where they can¬†record achievements, etc.¬†New blog posts can then continue to be published¬†as normal below the ‘Sticky’. The idea is that their Glow Blog becomes a ‘one-stop-shop’ where they can update with reflective posts, but have an area to formally record successes (although there will still be links to a wiki, where¬†some children have enjoyed updating stories over a period of time. Have a look at the joint effort by Brooke, Natasha and Eilidh¬†).

I created a Trial Blog and set it up with the relevant sections. The Sticky post shown in the image links to¬† HERE where I’ve set up areas for them to record achievements until they leave Primary School. The idea is that they create links to High School stages (and beyond?)

I exported¬†the information from the Trial Blog as an extended RSS file and¬†imported into the children’s blogs. I¬†had a bit of a dilemma as to whether or not to open up the links from the ‘Sticky’ post in a new window. I worried that if I didn’t do that then¬†visitors to the blogs who were not used to such online spaces (parents?) might get lost and not be able to find their way back to the homepage. After seeking advice on twitter, though, I decided that the best solution was to open the links in the same window and add a¬†¬†‘Back to my Home Page’ link on the sidebar.

The class¬†can choose from 3 link designs –¬† all they have to do is copy the html code into a text widget.¬†I’ve saved the code into a¬†word document, but they need to change the link from the trial blog to their own.

I’m sure they’ll manage ūüôā¬†

In this example the link will go to Declan’s homepage, even though the original image is stored¬†in the Trial Blog.¬†

<a href=”https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/cpsdeclanw/2010/11/16/welcome-to-my-eportfolio/”><img src=”https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/carronshoretrial/files/2010/11/home-button-1-150×150.jpg” title=”blog home” /></a>

Here’s the three choices.

 
Thanks again to David Gilmour  for his patience when explaining how to do this!

The sidebar pages widget transfers with all the correct information and the links go directly¬†to pages on the children’s blogs,¬†but¬†the actual posts¬†links still¬†transfer back to the Trial Blog.¬†I’ve¬†remedied this by¬†creating a couple of class ‘experts’, who then teach others how to fix the problem. This is still on-going ….. but if anyone knows of an easier¬†solution, please get in touch.

 

 

This post has been a bit of a ramble,¬†but I’ll finish with a reminder to myself of what I believe an ePortfolio to be. I don’t think something like this could be built¬†in a hurry anyway¬†ūüôā

Back to Basics

1. What is an ePortfolio?:

  • It‚Äôs¬†a collection of student work that tells the story of the student‚Äôs efforts, progress, or achievements¬†

2. What should they look like?

  • There¬†should¬†be¬†evidence of self-reflection

3. What’s the teacher’s role?

  • They¬†need¬†to plan carefully to provide¬†clearly defined criteria¬†
  • Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey

4. What about the pupils?

  • Comments should go beyond ‚ÄúI think I did OK‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄĚ I think I have more to learn.‚ÄĚ
  • Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.
 

Welcome To My ePortfolio

 I am recording my achievements inside and outside of school HERE .

Pondering Our Online Spaces

 Audience

In my previous post¬†I revisited my Chartered Teacher dissertation where I’d mentioned¬†research by¬†Stern (2007)¬†who found that in her study, the main audience for young people’s¬†blogs¬†were the authors themselves and that they were self reflecting as they tested out different versions of their current and possible identities. She also¬†found that they were continually testing out other audiences too, and that they were hungry for peer approval.

The Primary Six children in my class certainly value getting comments on their blog posts. For the first few months, it was common for every post to end with a, “Please leave comments!” plea, and I’d occasionally ask my twitter followers to oblige them ūüôā The children were undaunted by this … until Andrew received a comment from Dairmid , a 9 year old:

Hi Andrew, I Am Nine too and i play football on saturday but for a diffrent club ,maybr we could become freinds and date a playday

In class the¬†next day, Andrew told me that he’d received a suspicious comment. He was worried that it was from¬†an adult¬†pretending to be a 9 year old. I was able to reassure him that it was from Catriona’s son – we’d¬†had a discussion about it on twitter and¬†she’d mentioned that¬†Dairmid had left the comment ūüôā

 I found this interesting, though, as three years ago it was the adult comments that were more difficult for my class to accept as this quote from my dissertation shows:

“The third adult comment resulted in much excitement. The children were unexpectedly bewildered by it, and had difficulty coming to terms with how the blogs were discovered by this teacher. Although all the children were aware of search engines, and had personal experience of using them, they still could not quite grasp how this visitor had stumbled upon one of their blogs. Visiting children, on the other hand, did not surprise them at all”

I’ve set up our Glow blogs so that I’m able to track who is commenting on the children’s blogs, and recently I’ve become aware that the majority of the comments are coming from the children themselves as the image here shows.

Other changes are¬†taking place¬†as well, though, because I’ve noticed that the class are now beginning to reflect on each others’ posts. They’ve begun writing about a¬†‘competition for the best post of the week’. Jade’s example of this can be seen here¬†–¬†more of these types of¬† ‘lets look at what others are writing’ posts are continuing to¬†make an appearance.

I was worried that the children’s motivation to blog would begin to wane if I couldn’t provide an audience for them, but it seems that they’re happy enough to have their peers as their audience when it comes to comments – maybe Stern was right ūüôā

 Stern (2007) also mentioned the importance young people attach to personalising their online spaces, and how they prepare them with careful attention to detail.

It might be significant that the change to a more class community feel to our blogs coincides with the fact that I’ve allowed (and shown) the children how to customise their Glow Blog Header image. As usual, a few ‘experts’ are emerging and they are helping others to upload images successfully. Three Header images that I like are ones that mirror the children’s interests.

Jade loves her pets.

Charlotte is really into frogs!

Jennifer is adamant that she is the biggest fan of Rubber Ducks ever ūüôā

Last night I began with the intention of writing about three topics, and even uploaded some images to help guide me through the post. Unfortunately, I’ve only managed one of the topics because I keep getting sidelined by what’s happening on the blogs. Here are¬†the three topics – one down, two to go …

  • Audience¬†¬† (managed that!)

  • Assessment (via Glow Blog Posts)

  • ePortfolios (development update)

I¬†hope I find the time to write up the other two topics before I get waylaid again ūüôā

Blogs, Wikis and Emergent Writers

¬†I mentioned in my previous post that I was surprised at the¬†unexpected lengthy¬†pieces of writing on the children’s Glow blogs and wikis. I’ve been using¬†the same strategy that I adopted previously when I carried out a case study for my Chartered Teacher studies –¬†¬†my dissertation¬†¬†has the details,¬†and I’ve had a closer look to see if I can come up with a formula (I’ve¬†looked at¬†some of the professional reading that helped to¬†convey my¬†thoughts at the time).¬†¬†

Three ingredients jump out:

1. Content  РThe freedom to choose

  • Lafferty (2004): ‚ÄúTo develop an online community requires a more student-centred approach with the tutor transforming into a facilitator from ‚Äôsage on the stage‚Äô to ‚Äėguide on the side.‚Ä̬†
  • ¬†Marsh (2007) proposed that by enabling children to create blogs based on their own interest, valuable learning opportunities might be developed
  • Buckingham (2008) argues that through using the new media, young people are learning primarily by means of discovery, experimentation, and play, rather than by following external instructions and directions
  • Stern (2007) also found that in the absence of audible or visual cues,¬†young people¬†often feel less inhibited, a sensation heightened by the experience of crafting messages in front of a computer screen, frequently in the privacy of their own room or other personal space. She claims that authors possess more control over the impressions they give than they do in offline spaces, since they make all the decisions about what to reveal, omit, embellish, or underplay.¬†
  • Wenger¬†states that the¬†school is not the privileged locus of learning. It is not a self-contained, closed world in which students acquire knowledge to be applied outside, but a part of a broader learning system. The class is not the primary learning event. It is life itself that is the main learning event.¬†

¬†2. Comments –¬†¬†Creating a sense of audience

  • Stern (2007)¬†argues that the main audience for their blogs was the authors themselves and that they were self reflecting as they tested out different versions of their current and possible identities. She also maintains, however, that they were continually testing out other audiences too, and that they were hungry for peer approval
  • Davis and merchant (2006) believe that the perception of an actual or imagined audience prompts us to think about what we wish to show ……… an audience to whom one is presenting a particular narrative of the self

3. Sharing –¬†New¬†posts¬†shared¬†offline (in class), tends to¬†influence other – sometimes typically¬†reluctant –¬†writers to add posts to their¬†own blogs .

  • Godwin-Jones (2003) explains that blogs and wikis offer powerful opportunities for online collaboration for learners. He states that the encouragement of peer to peer networking and buddy learning is central to a constructivist learning approach,
  • Dissertation quote – Sharing the stories that the children wrote on their wikis provided ideal opportunities for formal learning to occur.¬† The stories were¬† written at home, usually in instalments. It is clear that the children often went home and improved parts of their stories after having heard them read aloud in class.¬†¬†
  • Owen et al, 2006¬† believe that there is¬†significant potential for the development of new approaches to education. There are changes in our understanding of practices of creativity and innovation ‚Äď from the idea of the isolated individual ‚Äėgenius‚Äô to the concept of ‚Äėcommunities of practice‚Äô, where reflection and feedback are important collaborative processes.

But there’s a fourth ingredient that came in¬†to play during¬† the case study period and that was the importance of ‘Role Models’. At the time I was interested in gender differences and I¬†noted that¬†my class were very aware that some of the ¬†The AllStars¬†girl¬†bloggers seemed very skilled writers. This encouraged the girls in my own class¬†to improve the quality and quantity of their posts. The boys, on the other hand, had no such role models.¬†The AllStars¬†teacher Kim P contacted me at the time because she was aware of the same gender differences:

  • ¬†“Girls seem more word oriented evidenced by their blogging stories, commentaries etc; whereas boys tend to prefer visual (and less text oriented) ways of expressing themselves. Maybe boys prefer to talk and show how to use an application, rather than using application for personal reasons.”

 

¬†This time around the gender balance has changed, though. It’s the boys who tend to write¬†more on their blogs and wikis – and the Role Models are in our own class ūüôā

  • Andrew enjoys writing blog posts. His wiki story is looking fantastic, too.
  • Kian started this story as a blog post and it’s now 6000 words long. He’s been¬†continuing it on a Word document and it’s being¬†saved on a memory stick until it’s finished (we’ve had a lot of discussions about copyright and¬†I suspect he’s¬†protecting¬†the idea until it’s published).¬†
  • Jack has been writing a hilarious story on his wiki. It shocked me at first, but I can’t wait to read more. What do you think? Jack’s Story

Now more reluctant writers are beginning to add lengthy posts. Four stand out for me:

  • Sean wrote¬†a great account of his first experience at a ¬†football match. I don’t think he’d have been this¬†inspired in class. It’s here¬†
  • I’m impressed that Ryan was motivated to write this post in his own time.
  • Dylan’s post made me smile and I want to know more about his knowledge of Falkirk Bus Routes.
  • Lewis is very proud of his post about his holiday to Aviemore

¬†More to follow about the girls’ writing ūüôā

Glow Blogs.. Wikis.. Stories … and ePortfolios

I’ve been going on a lot about how the class are using their Glow Blogs.¬†For example, at the¬† TeachMeet at this years Scottish Learning Festival¬†my presentation focussed on them. I spoke about them again at the more recent Falkirk TeachMeet …. and I’m constantly mentioning them on twitter (the examples below are copied and pasted from my twitter account and were added there as I discovered them appearing on the top of the list of new Falkirk posts

It’s also great to see that some children who don’t normally enjoy writing in class are beginning to voluntarily write posts on their blogs from home. After receiving some encouraging comments (thanks to my ‘twitter’ colleagues!), they’re writing follow-up posts, too. The children love to have their posts read out in class and often the first thing they say in class is, “I’ve written a new post. Can we read it out to everyone?”

And there was the incidence when Lewis very quietly asked me to read out his latest blog post. No-one in class knew about his gran, and I think he was glad that he was able to mention it via his blog post (he whispered that his mum had said it was ok to share it)

“I have a gran called Ann and she was in strathcarron hospice with cancer and she had allot of medicine. She was in strathcarron hospice for four weeks but at the weekend she died on Saturday night.¬† Her funeral is on Thursday and I was sad when she died and I am going to miss her very much.”

I was a bit worried when I began using Glow blogs, and before I introduced them to the class I wrote a Wish List post. One of my main concerns was that the children would be frustrated that they couldn’t easily embed slideshows, etc. in to their posts. I think that it does irritate them a bit, but what has happened is that they’ve had to concentrate on the written word. This has led to some unexpected lengthy¬†pieces of written work that we’ve been able to share in class (and subtly learn from?).

¬†Recently, though, there has been a turn of events. This came about as a result of writing letters to the local Bookbinders Tom Valentine‚Äôs in Larbert. The class wondered if they could be shown what’s involved in turning a story they’d written¬†into an actual book. There was great excitement on Thursday when a reply came from the Bookbinders saying that they would visit us and look at some¬†of our¬†stories. The reply¬†also included¬†the children’s letters¬†in a beautiful¬†leather covered book with gold lettering (it’s at school but I’ll take a picture soon and include it here).¬† Valentines are¬†going to bring along some of the equipment used when binding books before they’re published.¬†

The class¬†have already begun planning the stories they want¬† (hope!) to be published. Some want to write individual¬†stories and others want to work in a small group –¬†but what concerns them¬†is how they’ll access stories at home that have¬†been¬†begun in class .. and vice versa. We discussed¬† using Microsoft Word and saving the stories on to memory sticks –¬†but none of the children have one.¬†Another option¬†is to write on their Glow blogs and save the entries as a Draft post.

It was at that point that I had the idea of setting¬† up a wiki for each of them. They were set up in a hurry on Friday – I’ve used them¬†previously with classes so it didn’t take long! I only had a few minutes to¬†‘sell’ the advantages of having a wiki and to describe how to access it and use¬†the various features.

I’ve noticed that Andrew has already added pages to his wiki. It’s looking great ūüôā http://cpsandrewf.wikispaces.com/

What’s even more great is that he seems to have sussed out how he’ll use Glow blogs and his new wiki (another step towards an ePortfolio?)

Hi everyone! Welcome to my wikispace. I am going to use this for a lot of things. The main reasons are to have fun and to write my stories on. To view the stories I am going to write you will have to go on my stories page. I have a glow blog which is awesome so I think this will be awesome! I am looking forward to writing on this. I don’t really know what to write, so see you! Remember to look at all my pages daily!

I’m looking forward to sharing how he’s used his wiki in class tomorrow ūüôā

Pupil Glow Blog Creation – Step by Step

There has been a bit of a discussion on here recently about the setting up of pupil Glow Blogs and I was a bit surprised to read this comment from John¬†(I’ve linked to his twitter profile, as his blog http://johnjohnston.info/blog¬†seems to be ‘broken’ at the moment?).

John wrote:

As far as I know pupils can’t set up public facing blogs. So they can only set up private or glow only blogs.
‚ÄĚ Public (Note: Can only be selected by Staff, Site Collection Administrator and Administrator.)‚ÄĚ
A workaround is to get the children to create blogs (They need to have been given permission by ASM), and send you the url to their my glow. Then logged in as SCA you manage the blog and set to public. You could set up a links webpart in a class glow group where the children could add their urls. Using SCA account is necessary as your account can’t access children’s my glow, unless SCA gives permission. Children can’t manage members of own glow.

This is just a very qiuick post to show the steps I took to set up the pupil blogs for my own class. I was logged in as them, but there’s no reason why children can’t do this themselves. They were able to add me (class teacher, I’m not the SCA or ASM) to their ‘My Glow’. I’m not sure why John thinks this isn’t¬†an option for them¬†…maybe it’s the way the Glow Blogs have been set up in our Authority that makes this possible here?

Anyway, here’s how¬†I did it (as a pupil).

Glow Blogs and ePortfolios?

¬†At the beginning of this school session, I set up Glow Blogs for my class and wondered if they could form part of an ePortfolio. Our Glow Blogs¬†have been up and running for less than four weeks, so they’re a wee bit away from being ePortfolios yet ūüôā

I talked a bit about them during¬† TeachMeet at this years Scottish Learning Festival¬†last night, and today I’ve been pondering how the (9/10 year old) children have been ‘settling in’ and getting to know their new online spaces. Tonight I took a quick whirlwind tour of the blogs so that I could get some sort of overview of what’s happened so far.

 These are just some of the significant learning experiences to date:

Establishing the Purpose (a couple of first posts – setting the scene for their blogs?)

  • Hi people of earth. This is my first ever blog entry. I am going to use this blog to tell you all about what I do inside and out of school. Please comment!!!
  • Hello mighty world ( that‚Äôs full of random people watching me on my blog ). Watch and see what happen‚Äôs because im full of good ideas.

Learning about Copyright (a difficult concept, but lots of class discussion about it seems to have paid off)

  • I got all this information out my book Horrible Histories The Savage Stone Age but put it in my own words.
  • My friend Kian sits beside me at class.I am going to tell you some of his ideas.WARNING:The fowlowing section of writing is COPYRIGHT as it is Kians.
  • Earlier today Anna+Robyn used the DJ Earworm song Like OMG Baby. So i just went to DJ earworms site and lokked and looked and looked but nothing so i commented and asked if we could use it with all music credit going to him but he need‚Äôs to E-mail back so im waiting!!!

Becoming Familiar with¬†Blog Layout (wondering what happened to the post he’d written just previously?)

  • My first AR reading book was by David Orme …. Look up to see the 2nd book I read.And by up I mean on the compuuter not the roof or sky!

Awareness of Audience¬†(asking for comments – or just ‘talking’ to a perceived audience)

  • So far I have had LOADS of comments on my blog! I would like to thank all the people who left comments. If you see a post and you think of something that describes it or something to improve it don‚Äôt hesitate to comment
  • I dont have alot of comments so plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz leave comments
  • Okay we did max in the middle today but i cant tell you about it because it‚Äôs Alisdairs turn on the computer so ill update you laterz!!! BTW Alisdair is my little brother

Blog as Vehicle for Communicating¬† Difficult Thoughts (Lewis doesn’t usually share information in class and mentioned quietly that he wanted this post to be shared with his peers)

  • I have a gran called Ann and she was in strathcarron hospice with cancer and she had alot of medicine. She was in strathcarron hospice for four weeks but at the weekend she died on saturday night. Her funeral is on thursday and I was sad when she died and I am going to miss her very much.

I’ve included my Prezi presentation from last night here …. thanks to Fearghal for his help with the setting up (I nearly mucked up!). Thanks, too, to all the other ‘behind the scenes’ people who made it …. despite my stressful state …the best TeachMeet experience for me so far. I came away with loads of ideas to investigate further.

 

Glow Blogs Update .. Take 2

It’s¬† been¬†couple of¬†weeks since I issued the class with their Glow Blog ¬†usenames and passwords (actually it was a phased programme, so some have only had theirs for a week). In that short space of time there has been a lot of activity. I’ve ¬†been surprised by the way some of the boys have taken to their blogs. Andrew and Kian have written some great posts – and Jack’s ‘Hello Mighty World’ post really made me smile ūüôā

The reason that I’m surprised at the way that the boys in the class have taken to the blogs, is because my research from a couple of years ago¬†pointed to the fact that the girls were much more reflective and the boys preferred to upload pics, etc. This is not the case with this particular class. The girls are the ones who are keen to express themselves via slideshows, etc. The dissertation was a Case Study, though,¬†and only looked at my¬†(then) P7 class.¬†Although at the time, KimP¬†¬†commented that she had found a similar trend with her own class

“…….The Vokis and Animotos are visual ‚Äď like the prevalence of pictures on the boys blogs. I‚Äôve noticed that the boys in my class also are really good at making topic related vokis and animotos.
In my experience, girls use these applications in a different way ‚Äď more about how they see themselves, or want to see themselves; as opposed to the boys filling these applications with topic specific pictures and content.

…..PS Girls seem more word oriented evidenced by their blogging stories, commentaries etc; whereas boys tend to prefer visual (and less text oriented) ways of expressing themselves. Maybe boys prefer to talk and show how to use an application, rather than using application for personal reasons. Don‚Äôt know? Not sure”

Including slideshows in their Glow blog posts is proving a bit of a challenge as only certain sites can be embedded in to Glow Blogs.¬†I had originally hoped to get round this by using Photostory3 (now available on all our school computers) and uploading these to Vimeo, but, although I can access Vimeo in school, I can’t log in to upload anything (and the children can’t access it at all when logged in to the computers). After a LOT of experimenting, however, I’ve managed to find some sites that do work and I’ll show these to the class tomorrow via a trial blog I set up. I’ve also just noticed that some of the girls have already found a way to include slideshows – but I suspect that they’ll soon use up the 100mb storage limit if they continue to do this (I’ll also need to disappoint them by pointing out that they can’t use pop music on their slideshows unles they’re sure the have permisson – I have explained about images, but didn’t think we were ready for the¬†music just yet!)

What hasn’t changed, though, is the delight when comments are received. ‘Audience’ is clearly a very important part of their blogging. We’ve had to be careful to log out before leaving comments on posts, however, because surnames automatically appear (I could solve this by changing each of their Glow profile pages, but I just don’t have the time!)

Keeping track of the blogs is relatively easy as I use Google Reader, but¬†I’ve noticed that if you visit the Local Authority Glow blog, then the most recently active¬†blogs move to the top of the list.

Up until now, the class have been ‘getting to know’ their online spaces and just learning about how they work. Last week, I introduced them to linking to each others’ blogs or to any online webpage, and next I plan to explain the benefit of tagging their posts. I plan to let them grow organically as, if they’re going to withstand the test of time (and to eventually become part of an ePortfolio), the children need to feel ownership of the spaces. I was surprised, therefore, when they came up with the suggestion of using them as a learning log for their class project. Andrew blogged about this – and has already had feedback from his new PLN ūüôā

“Hi again! Today at school Mrs V gave us all a Learning Log. A learning log is when you get given something to find out about. It can be anything from finding out about food to finding out about¬†magnetism. Most of the time you get a week to do it. We were lucky though because¬†you normally have ¬†to do it in a big jotter but we got to do ours on our blogs!¬†Since our topic is on Australia my learning log is about Sydney! If any of the AllStars check out my blog could you please leave comments telling me a bit about Sydney! So heres my learning log‚Ķ”

But I think that the biggest advantage of having given the children their own blogs, is the difference it has already made to the classroom climate … and the insight I’ve had to the children’s interests and personalities after having only been with them for such a short time. More on this to follow ….

Glow Blog Update

A handful of children now have their Glow Blog username and password. These were sent home along with a covering letter explaining what Glow is and the potenial benefits of Glow blogs. Before issuing the passwords etc., the blogs were customised for safe use (well, as safe as possible without compromising on the gains).

The changes included:

  • Ensuring that all the blog URLs began with cps (Carronshore Primary School) followed by the child’s first name and second initial of their surname – https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/cpsalysonm/¬†This gives a ‘uniform’ appearance to the blogs and associates them with an educational establishment (not just another social networking site that some children might be already using)

 

  • The Headers were¬†modified so that the school identity was prominent. I made these by uploading pictures made in weeworld¬†(it’s for 13+ age group, but the children were not using the actual site – they logged on via¬†a school¬†account made by me and simply saved their avatars). I then uploaded them to Microsoft Publisher and¬†saved the file as a jpeg. This was then uploaded to Microsoft Picture Manager and cropped and resized to the right specifications.

 

  • ¬†In the Settings menu on the dashboard, the ‘discussion’ options were set so that all comments would require moderation before appearing ‘live’ on the blogs. It’s imortant to change the default ones to those shown¬†here because in wordpress¬†they’re set to “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” – a bit like a ‘catch 22’ scenario ūüôā
  • ¬†

 

  • The blog Widgets were added in this order:

1. ‘Text’ widget so that the children could add something about themselves that would stay visible on their blog even after the introductory post had been archived https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/cpsandrewf/

2. ‘Text’ widget – to link the blogs to http://www.scotedublogs.org.uk/¬†. Glow Blogs aren’t able to link to this site at the moment, but it’s being worked on and the issue will be sorted soon – fingers crossed ūüôā

3. ‘Pages’ widget I felt it was important to share our class¬†Blogging Rules¬†on their individual blogs.

4. ‘Archives’ widget – I learned from previous experiences of providing children with their own online spaces that it can be difficult for them to understand what has happened to¬†posts they’ve been proud of – and suddenly they seem to disappear because they get archived.

5.¬†‘Tag Cloud’ widget – Although I’ve activated this widget, I haven’t discussed its use yet with the class. I’m very guilty of not using it in my own blog – but have recently been converted to appreciating the value of tagging posts.

6. ‘Meta’ widget – I learned very early on that if you don’t activate this widget after changing Themes, logging in to your blog can be challenging ūüôā

  • I’ve already shared the class flickr account with the children. This was set up a few years ago (for a previous class) but will allow the children to access photos from home. The weemee characters are saved on our ‘class share’ area, but this can onlybe accessed at school.

 

  • Google Reader¬†helps me to keep track on what children are posting on their blogs. Subscribing to this means that I don’t need to check each individual blog to look for new posts.

Although there have only been a few class Glow Blog account logins assigned, I’m heartened by the results so far ¬†– especially from the boys. I’ll maybe need to re-think some of my original research ūüôā

More thoughts ¬†to come …..

My ePortfolio Experiment Begins

Well, I’ve been back in class for¬†eight whole days now¬†(five of those with the children) and it’s been a busy time! I’m with a Primary 6 stage class and one of my goals in coming back to class was to try to set up an ePortfolio for each child. I’d been playing around with the idea whilst on secondment and couldn’t wait to try out the concept ‘for real’ and this post is hopefully going to help me to learn from what’s happened so far¬† …… it’s been a rocky ride at times ūüôā

During my secondment, I had the opportunity to work with a small group of children for a few afternoons and I helped them set up an ePortfolio (of sorts). Jaimey’s can be seen here¬†. I decided on wikis over blogs, because I liked the idea that the children¬†could put menus in the sidebar and have things neatly compartmentalised. I’d used wikis in the past with children, but¬†mainly¬†to¬†allow them with¬†a place to experiment with writing stories¬†. I’d also previously provided children in my classes with individual blogs¬†but wasn’t convinced that they were the best means available for the purpose – I’ve actually moved my thinking on and now see a place for both, but I’ll save that another post ūüôā

So – what about my attempts so far in helping my class to build their¬†ePortfolios?¬†¬†I began by introducing them to¬†our class blog¬†. Because it’s been¬†on the go¬†for about four years now, I was able to¬†locate lots of examples of the benefits of class blogging – and I¬†also told them about what happened when I gave children in previous classes their own¬†individual online spaces¬†and explained that I hoped to eventually give them their own blog¬†, too. I’d spent some time during the summer setting these up via GLOW¬† (I’d originally planned to use primaryblogger¬† – a fantastic support for schools! – but then¬†decided, for various reasons, to give the GLOW ones a try). I’d planned on giving everyone in the class a GLOW login anyway, so I decided to set their blogs up at the same time.

Here’s my step-by-step explanation – there are probably better/quicker¬†ways?:

  • ¬†log in as pupil and¬†go to¬†‘My Glow’
  • add the¬†‘Glow Blog’ web part
  • click¬†on ‘Advanced Settings’¬† then ‘Go to Site Administration’
  • Go¬†to ‘Manage¬† Users’ then ‘Add Users’
  • Add own Glow username to¬†the ‘choose users’ box and click on ‘administrator’ role
  • When email is received,¬†click on the link, create the blog and set the permissions, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, I am now a member (administrator) ¬†of every child’s blog and have customised them as I would have done with any other blog ……

Hey Presto!

 

 

 

 

 

 

More to follow ……… ¬†ūüôā

Chartered Teacher CPD

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the first¬†entry of a ‘two part’ post about a great weekend of CPD activities¬†and I’ve finally managed to get around to writing part two (how time flies!).

The second CPD opportunity came about after I read that the Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland (ACTS) were having a buffet lunch in Aberdeen. I took advantage of some bargain rail fares and an even better accommodation bargain¬†and set off¬†early on the Friday afternoon (JV had left in the morning to do some sightseeing). Although I’m a member of ACTS, I’m not on the committee, but everyone who attended the lunch was invited to stay on for the open meeting. The committee members are to be commended for the hard work they do to help the association thrive. Dorothy¬†and David – and a whole host of others regularly give up their free time to attend these meetings so that the ACTS vision can be realised.

I’ve copied the Vision and Aims statement from the ACTS blog:

VISION
To facilitate and encourage communication and collaboration within a community of Chartered Teachers

AIMS
· To support the community of Chartered Teachers in all its forms
· to encourage communication and collaboration between Chartered Teachers
· to encourage the provision of appropriate level CPD opportunities for Chartered Teachers
· to develop awareness of the professional identity of Chartered Teachers
· to make representation on issues affecting those in the Association of Chartered Teachers.

I’m proud of my Chartered¬†Teacher status, and I explained my reason for embarking on the C T journey in a previous post. But what can I do, as a fully qualified Chartered Teacher¬†¬†to realise these aims? Well – a few of us CTs¬†in Falkirk¬†got together and we’ve come up with some ideas:

This CPD oppportunity is being organised/run by a few of us who have achieved the status.

We’re all going to tell of our experiences since gaining full Chartered Teacher status –¬†and all have very different stories to tell! It won’t be a passive experience for those attending, though, and we’ve¬†planned¬†to make the event as collaborative as possible in the short time available.

This CPD opportunity is for those teachers who are contemplating the journey.

Again, all the presenters have very¬†individual stories to tell. I think that’s the message we want to give – it’s a very personal journey and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ element – so lots of discussion during that event as well ūüôā

Beginning on Monday 27th September, Falkirk is holding a week long ‘Learning to Achieve’ festival.

Various events will be held all over the Falkirk area to celebrate learning and Teaching, and on the Thursday of that week there will be a TeachMeet in Carronshore primary School from 4-6pm. The group of Chartered teachers who organised the above CPD activities thought it would be a great idea to hold a Chartered TeachMeet in the same venue between 6.30 and 8pm. I should add that the requests to hold both the TeachMeets came from Falkirk staff who have never actually attended one, but had heard of the concept through the grapevine and thought it sounded like a great idea.

David Noble has agreed to chair the event, and Dorothy Coe has already signed up to give a 7 minute presentation (I’ll add my name soon – and¬†will try my best to persuade some others here to do the same!)

  • Finally…….

Writing this blog post has helped me realise that I’m going to be busy when¬†I return to class teaching in August! ūüôā

My Glow Blog Wish List

On Saturday, I tried out the new blogging facility in Glow.

I admit that I was a bit perplexed at first because the dashboard seemed to have a lot less options that the ones I’m used to. However, I eventually managed to upload a picture and add some widgets to the sidebar – and I’ve even figured out how to customise the header, now ūüôā

There’s no option to easily select font sizes and colours … and I spent ages trying to embed a Voki¬†(it didn’t work!). John has since left a comment, though, explaining that both the images and the wysiwyg is a bit broken at the moment, but that “the glow guys have all summer to fix it ;-)”

I’ve also received three other comments on the trial blog. The first¬†two were¬†from Alan¬†and Malcolm (a colleague from work) saying they were looking forward to seeing how I’ll use the blogs with my Primary 6 class next session. I haven’t replied to their comment, but although I’d love to use Glow Blogs, there would need to be changes/additions made.¬†I know that changes are planned, though, because I also received a¬†third¬†comment from Andrew asking for feedback so that any necessary tweaks can be made over the summer…. so here’s my tuppence worth ūüôā

alumni3

  • ¬†At the moment, class teachers in Falkirk are using Primaryblogger¬†and we’ve been spoiled by the super service they provide .¬† Blogs¬† need to be user-friendly because class¬†teachers don’t have the time to spend hours trying to get them to do the things¬†we need them to do. My new class won’t have experienced blogging before and it would put them off if it was too difficult.¬†

It would be great to use Glow Blogs, though, so fingers crossed they can provide the things on my wishlist ūüôā

 

My Wish List For Glow Blogs:

  • Can we please have more options on the Dashboard?

 

It’s not easy to figure out how to add widgets – and¬†changing the custom header (on K2 theme)¬†took me a long time. If there was an ‘Appearance’ option like this on (even just the widgets and custom header submenus) that would save loads of hastle.

 

 

 

 
Some¬†classes have worked very hard and are very proud of their class blog. For example,¬†my own¬†Carronshore one has been on the go since 2006. It’s been looked after by others during my secondment ….¬†and I know I’ll need to import Mrs Willianson’s art posts in to another blog for her, or she’ll just refuse to give it back to me! (it’s an edublogs blog as¬†I’m a ‘supporter’ until 2048 – but that’s a long story!)

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Would it be possible to have the option to import existing blogs into a new Glow Blog by the addition of the ‘Tools’ menu?

 

  • Extra Widgets

The blogs we are using at the moment offer the option of dragging over some very useful widgets to the sidebar. The ones shown in the image here are not normally available, but the people at primaryblogger have added them to the bank of available widgets.

I know that they could probably be added by teachers themselves using text widgets and some code, but the ‘drag and drop’ of custom made ones saves a lot of hastle – and they’re great teaching tools, too.

 

 

 

  • Storage Space

John mentioned in his blog post that he’d like to see¬†more storage space in the Glow blogs and demonstrated how quickly¬†10mb can be used up – even if images are resized. One of the great things about primaryblogger is the generous 1000 mb

 

  • Please fix the ‘Visual’ tab so that we can easily change font size/colour, and upload images

  • ¬†
  • ¬†
  • ¬†
  • ¬†

 

  • Embedding Code

I’m presuming that this is something that the Glow RM Team are working to fix. I spent ages at the weekend trying to embed¬†a Voki into a Glow Blog. Embedding slideshows, sound files, etc.¬† is a very important part of blogging … especially if there’s a file upload limit.

  • Page Tabs

I’m not sure why there are no page tabs showing in any of the themes I played around with. I was able to create pages, but the only way to see them was to activate the pages widget¬† – once I found where the widgets were hiding ūüôā

The End!

Well, that’s¬†my wish list for Glow Blogs…..¬†so far! I hope¬†this post¬†doesn’t read like an advert for Primaryblogger. I have used other blog hosts in the past, but there were always frustrations involved – and that’s what makes class teachers just give up on the whole idea of blogging with classes.

Primaryblogger’s John McLear has always been very supportive, though, and has actually been in touch¬†offering to help with the Glow Blog set-up. He mentioned that the main plugin used to simplify the primaryblogger interface is:¬† Qwerty admin panel¬† …all double-dutch to me, but it might be of some use to the folk at RM ūüôā

Two Days of Great CPD … Day One

int slide

I’m not sure how I managed it, but I inadvertently left out one of my ‘Alumni Presentation’ slides from my last post. It must have been fate, though, because since then I helped to organise a very successful Safe and Responsible Use of the Internet workshop for teachers here in Falkirk. I know it was a success because of the comments on the evaluation sheets at the end of the workshop.

For example:

  • “A very interesting and informative session. I now have lots of ideas to take forward and I’m looking forward to getting started with our cluster pilot”
  • “What a great, helpful – even if scary – day. It certainly has made me even more aware of internet issues”
  • “Very useful and a great opportunity to talk to other professionals. ALL presenters were very knowledgeable and inspirational”

The presenters mentioned in the last quote included Alan Hamilton and Ollie Bray. There was also input from Bill Sharp who voluntarily presents at Parent internet safety information evening here.

The day began with Ollie giving this great presentation:

 
View more presentations from Ollie Bray.
Some of the things from Ollie’s presentation that I’ll take back to class with me in August include:
  • The fact that I’ll be more aware that children are not the same as they used to be! Ollie reminded us that today’s children have access to unlimited knowledge via the internet. Adults are no longer the ‘gatekeepers of knowledge’ – and some children are just not emotionally ready for¬†some of the experiences. For¬†example,¬†‘real life tragedies’¬†can be viewed online¬†via places like YouTube. It’s important to be aware that young people may not know who to talk to about something they’ve found very disturbing.
  • ¬†Wikipedia¬†contains a massive¬†amount of up to date information on heaps of topics – but it can also be used to illustrate the fact that not everything on the internet is accurate or even true. Ollie showed us some examples of Wikipedia acknowledging that something written there might not be correct.

Phrases like:

  • ‘The factual accuracy is disputed’
  • ‘This article contradicts another article’
  • ‘This article contradicts itself’
  • ‘This article reads like an advertisement’
  • ‘This article needs additional citation for verification’

appear throughout the pages. I’ll be reading up on this post on Ollie’s blog to help me get some important messages across to students next session.

  • ‘Digital Footprints’ were mentioned a lot in the presentation. This is something that I think might make young people think twice about the importance of having an appropriate online presence.
  • Educating¬† students about Targeted Advertising is something I’d never have thought of before now. I have seen it happening when¬†I order goods from online stores such as Amazon, but Ollie made me aware of how easy it is to make young people aware that it’s happening on their social network sites as well.
  • Facebook privacy settings need to be taught and this is something I hope to do by requesting that the site be unblocked for staff and pupils – even for a very short time – to allow this to happen.

There were loads more ideas I noted down from Ollie’s presentation, but the short list above will certainly help me to spread the message in August – to staff as well as children?

After coffee,¬† Alan Hamilton ¬†talked about the importance of¬†sharing resources and why internet safety education¬†is the responsibility of everyone.¬†It’s¬†not ok to keep on doing our own thing – we ¬†need to share what we’re doing.¬† Sharing within local authorities is a start, but¬†being able to¬†share resources and ideas nationally is¬†the ideal way forward (this is my interpretation of what he said, anyway!)

Just as an aside … I love the way¬†Alan took the time to embed our Learning to Achieve logo into his powerpoint slides ūüôā

He introduced us to the new Internet Safety and Responsible Use Glow group where we’ll be able to access ‘the latest resources, ideas and partner websites’

 Three steps are involved in the sharing mechanism:

  • Step One entails¬†identifying¬†good online¬†resources, etc¬†– then¬†evaluating these by trialling them in class. Searching in Google tends to be unhelpful for teachers because of the overwhelming number of returns (I’ve been there!)

Step Two is to do with teachers then tagging the best resources.  They might be suited to a particular stage Рand within that stage, might cover distinct topics such as digital footprints, digital literacy, emotional literacy, etc.

Step Three¬† means that teachers can easily find suitable resources that have been ‘tried, tested and appropriately tagged’ by classroom practitioners.

 

And that was only the morning session!

 The following day I travelled to Aberdeen and met Dorothy Coe  and David Noble and learned more about the great work they (and others) do for the Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland

‘Day Two’ post to follow soon …¬†

A Secondment Whirlwind Tour – 2 Years in 2 Minutes

alumni 1

¬†I have¬†less than¬†2 weeks left of my two year secondment as a Curriculum Support Teacher (the title has changed a few times since I first took up the post) and¬†all the secondees¬†who are leaving the team to return to class were¬†asked to put together alumni presentations to share any changes/successes that we have influenced –¬†or been part of – in our particular area of practice.

 On Friday afternoon, the wider Curriculum Support Team members were treated to some very imaginative, fun activities such as: fairy stories; poems; games.

My own presentation probably seemed bland in comparison :-).

¬†I chose to tell the story (as best I could) of a few of the changes I’ve made that¬†I’m most proud of and I shared four of these¬†….¬†there¬†are¬†more, but we only had 5 minutes¬†ūüôā¬†

 

How it Began

alumni2

¬†I¬†intended to begin¬†my presentation by¬†talking about¬†what I’d been up to¬†before I embarked on¬†my secondment journey – but,¬†as I missed out¬†some of the important stuff, I’ll take this opportunity to add¬†it here.¬†¬†

Just prior to the¬†secondment post being advertised, I’d completed¬†a case study of my¬†experience of having given learners their own blogs and wikis.¬† Very soon afterwards some work colleagues¬†mentioned that an ICT Support Officer¬†secondment opportunity was available and¬†I¬†decided (was persuaded?)¬†to apply¬†for the post in order to share what I’d learned.

I don’t know how many¬†applied, but there were 8? candidates interviewed. I must have said something to convince them that I was the right person for the job because I here I am two years on writing this blog post about my secondment. My main remit was to introduce others to any online resources that could improve the learning and teaching experience.

 

Success Number 1

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¬†The first success I talked about was the number of class blogs I’ve helped to create.

The screenshots on the powerpoint slide show just a small amount, and in some schools every class has their own blog.

¬†I’ve also had lots of feedback from teachers telling me¬†about the positive impact¬†of having a class blog¬†has had on their classroom practice.

Finding the right host to recommend was a learning curve¬†but finding http://primaryblogger.co.uk/¬†was a godsend. The support is second to none – check out ¬†johnmclear¬†¬†on twitter. He’s on a mission to improve learners’ experience via ICT.

 

 Success Number 2

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 The second success I mentioned was having had the opportunity to spread the news about the host of freely available online tools. These tools can greatly benefit both online and offline classroom learning. Digital Storytelling, active learning, parental involvement and collaboractive activities are just some of the areas they can help enhance.

Sharing how using simple inexpensive tools such as mp3 players with built in microphones or digital cameras can make a difference to the quality of the learning experience was made easier because I was able to demonstrate by showing real life examples from my own class blog (capably looked after by others until my return).

 

Success Number 3

alumni5

¬†The third success on my agenda, was the changes to Falkirk’s Virtual Teacher Centre (known as the VTC). Part of my original remit was to oversee the day-to-day management and maintenance of the website. As a class teacher, I wasn’t very familiar with the VTC. I knew that it had links to great resources, but as I could never remember the password, I opted to use Google searches or the LTS website instead.

I was aware from talking to other class teachers that the VTC was not the first port of call for them either when they were looking for online resources. I managed to persuade my new colleagues that it would be a better idea to have the VTC more accessible by taking away the need for a password.

As an added bonus, the Staff area of the VTC is now the default homepage for every primary school staff teacher in Falkirk – what a great vehicle for sharing news, websites, case studies, etc.

 

Success Number 4 

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¬†My next choice for a ‘Success Story’ was the realisation half way through the secondment that teachers are not always the best recipients of CPD sessions. When I began hearing statements like:

This looks great, but I’m not sure I could manage to do this with my class”

I offered to work directly with the children – this was very warmly received..

Can you do that?”

.. was the typical response.

When she heard about this approach, my new line manager was convinced that this was the right path to take and gave me the ‘thumbs up’.

Working with a few students, and allowing them to become the ‘experts’ – who then spread their new knowledge to create other ‘experts’, who then spread their new knowledge …….¬†

Some even shared their expertise with peers in another catchment area .

 

Where to Now?

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¬†Last summer I stumbled upon the idea of giving learners their own eportfolios¬†and I’ve been trying to sell the idea ever since. My musings led me to writing this:

When I mention this to others in my own Local Authority ‚Äď and to others outwith the Authority ‚Äď the first question I‚Äôm typically¬†asked is : ‚ÄúSo ‚Ķ¬†what is an ePortfolio?‚ÄĚ

 

I find the answer to this question difficult. I think it’s because when I first heard about the idea, I was so attracted to it that I began reading any available relevant literature. This led me to writing a blog post about what I understood about the concept … but I can’t regurgitate all the bullet points in that that post every time someone asks me to explain in a few sentences what I mean by an ePortfolio, so I’ve tried to reduce them again to get the main points (as I see them) across. 

1. What is an ePortfolio?:

  • It‚Äôs¬†a collection of student work that tells the story of the student‚Äôs efforts, progress, or achievements¬†

2. What should they look like?

  • There¬†should¬†be¬†evidence of self-reflection

3. What’s the teacher’s role?

  • They¬†need¬†to plan carefully to provide¬†clearly defined criteria¬†
  • Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey

4. What about the pupils?

  • Comments should go beyond ‚ÄúI think I did OK‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄĚ I think I have more to learn.‚ÄĚ
  • Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.

The next question that¬†I need to prepare for is: ‚ÄĚ How do you manage something like that?‚ÄĚ

Whilst on secondment, I‚Äôve only been able to¬†‚Äôplay around‚Äô with the idea and¬†I‚Äôm looking forward to trialling it ‚Äėfor real‚Äô when¬†I return to the classroom in August. I‚Äôve been very encouraged, however, by the motivation shown by the children I‚Äôve helped set one up for so far. Because I set up the wikispace eportfolios, I¬†receive¬†an email¬†every time a change is made to one of them.”

 

 

 Back to  the Future

alumni final

I’m really looking forward to seeing where my ePortfolio idea leads to when I try it out for real in the classroom.
The insert in my powerpoint presentation was a clip of Memoona talking about her view of an ePortfolio and what it means to her.
I’ve included the origional Voki here. She seems to have grasped the idea ūüôā
Have a listen!

A Brief Look at Building the Curriculum 5

btc5

The learning and Teaching website’s section on Building the Curriculum 5 : A Framework for Assessment¬†states that:

“Building the Curriculum 5 – A Framework for Assessment is the next step in providing support for staff as they implement Curriculum for Excellence. It provides an outline of the approaches to assessment to support the purposes of learning 3 to 18.”

Last week, we worked in groups to try to familiarise ourselves with the document. Each group member looked at a different section and tried to summarise the main points. I looked at the section on¬†How We Assess¬†and I’m going to publish my summary here.¬†Others ¬†might condense the chapter differently, but I’m¬†putting it¬†on here in the hope that¬†it will be more accessible in the future should I¬†ever wish¬†to revisit my own¬†first thoughts about the ¬†document.

How We Assess

  • A variety of approaches and range of evidence¬†should be employed. These should dependent on the activity, but also on the learners’ preferences. Learners should be able to show their thinking and provide evidence
  • Assessment should be fit for purpose. it should be valid, reliable and proportionate … and it shouldn’t be so much of a burden that it takes away from the learning and teaching time
  • Assessment should: demonstrate learners’ understanding; confirm progress within school; provide information for other partners; supply information for use beyond school (exams. etc.?)
  • When designing discussions, tasks, activities, etc., it is important to obtain evidence from inside and outside school. Sources may be: observations; records (e.g. oral); information (e.g. dialogue and questioning; writte; product; accounts by others (peers, parents, staff, etc.)
  • Assessment needs to be carefully planned for interdisciplinary learning and records must be kept but it must be manageable and practicable within day to day teaching
  • A section on the SQA describes how National 4 and National 5 will replace Standard grade exams. Access, Higher and Advanced Higher¬†qualifications will be revised. New Literacy and numeracy qualifications are being developed from S3 onwards – these will be awarded on the basis of a portfolio and will initially involve input from the SQA who will award grades.

When the group got together to share our respective summaries, one thing that stood out was the repetitive messages included in the document. There were 5 members in¬†the group, and on¬†quite a number of¬†occassions voices could be heard saying, “Yes, that’s much the same messages¬†I got from reading my section.” Despite the¬†repetitiveness, I agreed with the sentiments.

We then looked at how we might put this in to practice and were given a scenario so that we could assess an aspect of¬† Literacy.¬†¬†After some discussion we looked¬†at emerging approaches to assessment¬†. These come with a ‘warning’ message:¬†

“However, in their day-to-day practice, practitioners would not be expected to document the assessment process for all learners in this kind of detail. It will be up to local authorities and establishments to decide how evidence of learning is to be captured, evaluated and used to inform next steps in learning and teaching.”

 We also looked at specific examples.  

I began to wonder that,¬†as it’s just¬†not possible to provide that much detail about each¬†student’s learning without compromising learning and teaching time, might we end up going back to paying lip-service to assessment (PLP’s, Self-assessment, Peer-assessment, etc.)?

What if they were allowed (encouraged/trusted/guided?) to assess their own learning via  ePortfolios?

Too many questions¬†…. and¬†I’ve gone off on one of those ‘blue sky thinking’ tangents again – time to publish¬†ūüôā

MIICE Conference Thoughts

Last year I wrote a blog post about my introduction to MIICE¬†(Measurement of the Impact of ICT¬†on Children’s Education). Before being seconded, I’d never heard of¬†the¬†MIICE partnership¬†and I wondered if that was¬†the same for other classroom teachers. At today’s conference in Dundee, however, there were eleven classroom teachers present – so maybe things are changing? I really enjoyed listening to the presenters and I¬†scribbled down some notes as they spoke. I’m now summarising them in this blog post because I think they’ll give me ideas to use in my own classroom practice when I return to school in August – hopefully it will be just a case of searching on here to refresh my memory instead of wading through piles of crumpled paper ūüôā These are my interpretations of what the presenters said, though, so I apologise if¬† I’ve misconstrued the intended messages.

One of the main purposes of the conference was¬†that the attendees would¬†“hear a range of experiences of dealing with the issues associated with measuring the impact of using ICT as part of the learning and teaching processes“.

  • The first speaker was Donna Bullivant, a class teacher from Cowie Primary School. Donna spoke about how she had used a range of ICT strategies to improve literacy across learning. She began with her use of Endless Ocean¬†and the opportunities that were created for improving writing. Parents were invited to afternoon workshops led by the children. Students from Stirling University¬†visited the class to talk about their diving experiences. The children even had the opportunity to interview a marine biologist. Donna’s message was that it wasn’t just about using the game – but about the many varied activities that were able to be ‘tapped into’ as a result. Donna also spoke about her experience of using Animation with the class. The topic was the Highland Clearances and the children were divided in to ‘families’ who then used storyboarding to tell the stories. She had learned from a previous experience of using Animation that it was important not to get too involved in designing the scenery. Donna decided to focus on simple 2D props because she didn’t want to take away the emphasis from the main learning which was to improve literacy. The class concentrated on script writing – the setting, the characters, and the dialogue. After that was in place, they got to act out the scenes. An important part of the process was the opportunity to showcase the learning. They even had an Oscar ceremony, all planned by the children themselves.
  • Maggie Irving from Argyll and Bute Council opened with this video clip then spoke about the¬†website she has created with loads of ideas for using ICT to support Curriculum for Excellence. She was a very entertaining speaker, but was brimming with common sense advice for taking learning in to the 21st century – even using a simple thing like a digital camera to help children record their understanding of basic concepts such as nouns and verbs. Another great idea was to allow the children to create a forward plan for a class topic. The construction of a large wallchart with movable blu-tack icons is certainly something I’m going to try when I return to class in August.
  • Ian Simpson, a teacher of computing at Inverurie Academy told us about his experience of using Little Big Planet with his S5/6 Intermediate 2 class.¬†He talked about a¬†4 term project that culminated in a growth of confidence in the students who were involved – and this, in turn, may have led to their¬†improved exam results. In term 3 of the project, the High School¬†students¬†held mock interviews to elect a ‘development team’ – the primary 1 children were the ‘clients’. We were shown an example of one of the levels that was created and 3¬†brave volunteers even played the game ‘live’ during the conference. It was great fun to watch ūüôā I’m going to take some time to have a closer look at what else is on Ian’s blog.

This blog post just gives a very small flavour of the conference – but at least I wrote some of it down here and I’m sure I’ll be referring to this post for practical ideas next session.

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Ever since Jaye Richards¬†¬†introduced me to the idea of ePortfolios on twitter¬†,¬†I’ve been¬†contemplating how¬†this might be the way forward for¬†a whole variety of¬† things (peer assessment, self assesment, personal learning plans, motivated learners, CV’s … the list seems endless to me).¬†

The first blog¬†post¬†I wrote¬†about the subject has been followed up by a whole host¬†of others –¬†but yesterday I thought to myself that I’d¬†laboured the point for long enough and it was now to focus my (blog) thoughts on¬†other issues. ……… So why is this blog post¬†going to focus on ePortfolios??

Two events happened today to convince me that the subject was worth revisiting yet again.

  • The first one was a visit to Larbert High School¬†where I stepped in to the shoes of a High School English teacher. I’m trained in Primary, so it was a bit daunting as I waited for the first class to arrive. I wondered if it might¬†resemble a scene from To Sir With Love¬† –¬†it¬†was actually¬†quite the opposite ūüôā¬†¬†The class were there for two periods and the time was used to revise for the fast approaching Higher exam. After the first hour, I thought they might appreciate a short break and I offered to show them a snapshot of the ePortfolio ideas I’ve been experimenting with. Just on a whim, I asked if any of them would be willing to record their thoughts about the suggestion of students at their level having an ePortfolio. I was delighted when four of them told me that they’d spend 5 minutes of their break recording their thoughts on a little mp3 player with a built in microphone (I happened to have a few of them in my bag from a CPD session I’d delivered the previous evening). I was delighted when they knocked on the staffroom door during the break to say that they’d done just that! They gave me their permission to put it on here¬†(I¬†got the impression that all four had spoken, but I could only find the extract below – hopefully i’ll see the class again tomorrow and clarify this)¬†

 

 

A Class Blog Journey Continues

nethermains1Three primary 6 stage children from Nethermains visited Carronshore just before the Easter break. They wanted to know how to add a¬†¬†Voki and Photopeach slideshow¬†to their new eportfolios. The picture here shows them concentrating as their ‘peer mentors’¬†demonstrated how to use the websites and then embed the completed efforts into their eportfolio. The class teacher had brought them along to see this for themselves. I’d already visited their school with a small group of Carronshore children to introduce them to the concept of eportfolios.

On both occasions I was struck by the genuine feeling of willingness to share and to listen (I think this picture and the ones below illustrate this?)

¬†Here’s a picture taken when the Primary 6s from Carronshore explained the process involved when adding a voki to an eportfolios home page. ¬†I can’t remember which one was was displayed on the screen, but¬†I think it was Jaimey’s .

nethermains2

The Nethermains group only had an hour with us, so it was a bit of a rush to help them to create their voki character and upload a personalised message to the site before embedding it into their new eportfolio.

nethermains4

These eportfolios are very much a ‘work in progress’ and won’t come to much without a lot of input from all involved. I know that when I return to class in August, the school management team will give me the freedom to set up an eportfolio experiment with¬†my own class …. and this secondment has given me the opportunity to play around with the potential of reaching out to others in the authority.

On reflection, setting up these eportfolios is the result of a journey that started with a class blog Рwhich then led to me giving children in my class their own online spaces (and voices) .  

I hope¬†I’ll be adding some more¬†to ‘The Story of the Carronshore Blog’¬†¬†soon …..

Still Playing Around With ePortfolios

¬†I’ve beememoonan writing …. and tweeting …… and talking for a while now about ePortfolios!

 I initially set them up for a few primary 6 stage children at Carronshore. Since then these children have helped some Primary 6s at Nethermains to set up one, too. The Nethermains group and their teacher are coming along to Carronshore tomorrow so that they can find out how easy it is to embed a Voki and Photopeach slideshow into their ePortfolio.

¬†I’ve also been¬†sharing the idea with the teachers from the Art Department at the local High School and I’ve helped¬†a small group of 4th year students to begin working on their own ePortfolio.

¬†When I mention this to others in my own Local Authority – and to others outwith the Authority – the first question I’m typically¬†asked is : So …¬†what is an ePortfolio?”

I find the answer to this question difficult. I think¬†it’s because when I first heard about the idea,¬†I was so attracted to it that I began reading¬†any available relevant literature. This led me to writing a blog post about what I understood about the concept … but I can’t regurgitate all the bullet points in that that post every time someone asks me to explain in a few sentences what I mean by an ePortfolio, so I’ve tried to reduce them again to get the main points (as I see them)¬†across.¬†

1. What is an ePortfolio?:

  • It’s¬†a collection of student work that tells the story of the student‚Äôs efforts, progress, or achievements¬†

2. What should they look like?

  • There¬†should¬†be¬†evidence of self-reflection

3. What’s the teacher’s role?

  • They¬†need¬†to plan carefully to provide¬†clearly defined criteria¬†
  • Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey

4. What about the pupils?

  • Comments should go beyond ‚ÄúI think I did OK‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄĚ I think I have more to learn.‚ÄĚ
  • Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.

The next question that¬†I need to prepare for is: ” How do you manage something like that?”

Whilst on secondment, I’ve only been able to¬†‘play around’ with the idea and¬†I’m looking forward to trialling it ‘for real’ when¬†I return to the classroom in August. I’ve been very encouraged, however, by the motivation shown by the children I’ve helped set one up for so far. Because I set up the wikispace eportfolios, I¬†receive¬†an email¬†every time a change is made to one of them.

eport wikiname

 

 

 

 

Once you create an account, you can create more spaces with their own unique URLs. You can then invite others to become members of that new space by sending them an email.

 

invite gmail message blog post

 

 

 

One way to keep control over the new wikispaces you create, is to invite users using the ‘gmail trick’ method by adding a ‘+ name’¬†the first part of the email address.

 

The instructions in the slideshow below show the steps involved and describe how the same method can be used to create multiple  accounts in a variety of online tools.

ePortfolio and Transition Opportunities

¬†I only have a few ‘secondment’ months left. I’ve really enjoyed the experience¬†and I’ve learned loads from it, too –¬†once I found my feet¬†-:)

Although my remit is to provide ICT support to all stages, it’s been mainly primary schools that have approached me directly. As I come from the primary sector anyway,¬†this didn’t really surprise me. I’ve always been keen, though, to become more involved with high schools. I think this may be because of the interest I have in the transition stages between the two sectors.

I’ve tended to teach children in the upper stages of primary and¬†in the past have set up individual blogs for the children. Although these were well used at the time, they tended to disappear in to the ether when the children moved on to high school

When I wrote a blog post about  ePortfolios, a comment by Ray Tolley helped me understand what had happened to the various online spaces I had set up for children in the past.

Ray commented:

‚ÄúPerhaps one important point missed so far is about longevity. Having taken the trouble to help pupils build up an e-Portfolio, what happens if there is no ‚Äėportability‚Äô to the Secondary school or beyond? I doubt that promises of ‚Äėinteroperability‚Äô will really materialise in the next 10-15 years! I think that it is very important to invest in a system that is future-proofed. I feel that children will get very frustrated if they have to start from scratch all over again when they move on to another school.‚ÄĚ

Since then, I’ve been toying around with an eportfolio experiment¬†¬†and¬†last week the¬†children¬†who are taking part¬†went along to¬†Nethermains Primary school to explain the concept to some peer primary 6s.

Yesterday I asked the Carronshore children if I could record some of their thoughts about their eportfolio experience so far:

Now that I’ve¬†set up the ePortfolios for the P6 group at Nethermains primary, they¬†are¬†really enthusiastic. I’ve also met with their class teacher who¬†seems very willing to take things forward. The children and their teacher are coming along to Carronshore next week so that they can learn some more ‘first hand tips from the original ‘guinea pigs’ ūüôā

I’m also really pleased that I’m going along to the local High School tomorrow to meet with some S4 students who are interested in setting up their own eportfolios to reflect on their Art work.

I introduced the concept to the teachers in the Art department recently and just today one of them (Mrs C)  left a comment on the Carronshore Blog :

Hi Carronshore!

Just a quick comment to say well done on creating the fantastic artwork for the exhibition.  I think it looks fantastic and really like the tartan designs.

I teach Art and Design at Larbert HIgh School and we are really keen to start a blog with our Art classes.  I will continue to visit and encourage our pupils to have a look at your wonderful work also!

Keep up the good work!

She also left a comment on a post I’d written on the Carronshore blog about the eportfolio experiment¬†:

¬†The pupils (and teachers!!) are really looking forward to Mrs Vass visiting us on Friday to hopefully help us set up¬† ePortfolios with some of our pupils.¬† I really enjoyed reading that so many pupils at Carronshore enjoy Art and we can’t wait to meet you when you move up to HIgh school!

I’m really looking forward to going along to the High School tomorrow to introduce the S4s to eportfolios – I’ll blog about it ūüôā

Alison Peacock

A year ago I attended the Participation and Learning Seminar in Edinburgh.

participation_and_learning_blogThe seminar was planned as part of the work of the Participation and Learning Network being facilitated by Learning and Teaching Scotland.

I enjoyed the day, and was really inspired by Alison Peacock, Headteacher of the Wroxham School, Hertfordshire. At the time, I jotted down some notes as Alison¬†talked about¬†practical ideas she’d tried out in her own school¬†by creating an atmosphere of inclusion and trust. I shared some of her ideas in a blog post at the time.

¬†When I heard that Alison was one of the speakers at the ‘Accountability, Assessment and Education for Citizenship’ HMIeseminar on the 12th of March, I was eager to¬†go along and hear what other ideas she was willing to share. She talked about accountability. This time, though, I didn’t take notes. This was probably because those who attended the seminar were given her latest paper to read beforehand and most of what she said was illustrating the points she’d written about.

Once again, I was captivated by what she had to say and mentioned this on twitter. One of my followers asked me for more information and I offered to email Alison’s latest paper so that he could have a look. Niggling in the back of my mind, however, was the memory of the ‘chair person’ saying that the paper was still in draft form and not yet officially published. I’m not knowledgeable enough about the protocol of sharing such things, so I contacted Alison directly … and I now have her permission to share her paper on this blog – an honour, indeed ūüôā

When I first read the paper, however, one small section¬†jumped out at me – I’ve copied and pasted it here:¬†

“……..Almost on a daily basis, we are reminded of the need to prove our worth and to enact models of leadership that hold others to account. ¬†Depressingly, this ‚Äėtop down‚Äô model leads many teachers to pressurise their class of children in the name of ‚Äėstandards‚Äô.¬† Parents and carers seek additional tuition outside school; all around us is the worry of test performance and ranking.¬† Even when we self evaluate school performance, too often the measures that we use are dominated by pupil performance within the core curriculum areas of maths and English. This has led to a culture of fear in many schools where measurable outcomes, in terms of test results, dominate the primary curriculum. School league tables, safeguarding regulations and the constant prospect of a phone call from Ofsted, are enough to send a shiver down the spine of the bravest school leader.”

HMIe¬†visits have been the topic of¬†some of my fellow¬†‘twitterers’ lately. Neil Winton’s school was recently inspected and he¬†wrote this¬†blog post before the inspection¬†where he briefly describes distant memories of a previous visit that did not go well for him personally. This was¬†¬†followed up with¬† another post¬†that was much more optimistic about the pending inspection, but I’m afraid I still hold the ‘shiver down the spine’ viewpoint.¬†This may be because the primary school that I’m seconded from is about to be inspected. I tend to be made less than welcome¬†there at the moment¬†– they’re finding it hard to¬†forgive me for managing to escape the pre-inspection panic ūüôā

I wonder what difference it would make if the word ‘inspector’ was replaced by the word ‘mentor’ … or anything else less intimidating!

Anyway – I seem to have gone off on a tangent (yet again) when writing this blog post. Here’s Alison Peacock’s paper. It is really very readable. Listening to her talking is also very much recommended, too ūüôā

 

Alison Peacock

A Very Quick Post!

This is a very quick post to try out audiopal¬†. ¬†I’ve just seen it mentioned in twitter by someone I follow (he also happens to be a colleague at work – thanks Malcolm!)

What a great find! The audio below was made by Marlene – the Depute Head at Carronshore Primary (where I’m seconded from). She’s talking about her first experience at a TeachMeet event.

I made a small change to the embed code to increase the size of the widget – but it worked fine the way it was.

Have a listen – it took minutes to upload the mp3 file and receive the embed code via email.

Just Another 'Secondment Thoughts' Post

At the beginning of this session, I submitted a number of CPD ‘twighlight’ courses that I planned to present to teachers here who were willing to give up two hours of their own time after a day at school. This is quite a responsibility, I think, because I didn’t want teachers to¬†go away believing that:

”¬†Well that was ok – ¬†but¬†I could probably have spent that time doing something more productive

I know that I’ve attended quite a few of those sort of CPD sessions in my time ūüôā

I wanted to hear the, ” Thanks for that – I feel that I could use some of these ideas tomorrow in my class” type of comment. I was delighted, therefore, that this was exactly the reaction I got from the last two sessions I provided. The first session was on Digital Storytelling. I’ve included a slideshare version of the handouts¬†I provided¬†for the session.¬†

View more presentations from carronshore.

Producing something like this before a CPD session helps me to focus on what it is I’m trying to portray – the theory behind the practice sort of research. Being seconded, however, means that I usually¬†have practical examples¬†to show. The short ‘story’ below, for instance, was made by the primary 7 children after a class trip. They were faced with a number of potentially dangerous scenarios and this helped them to become more aware of¬† water safety, fire safety, first aid, safety with animals, food safety, etc.¬† When we returned to school they were asked to use the pictures taken during the day as prompts to remind them of what was learned. A¬†digital story resulted …. well it wasn’t what we called it at the time – but it almost fits the definition??

 

Untitled from Education Services on Vimeo.

¬†This was just one of the examples I was able to show. There are lots more on our class blog ….perhaps another good reason for keeping a blog – a record of what has been¬†covered / learned etc. in class

One of the things that surprised me during the CPD session, however, was the interest in¬†my wordle pic I’d used on one of the powerpoint slides:

digital

 We spent a fair amount of time exploring http://www.wordle.net/ and looking and the great possibilities for interesting ways of using it in class.

Because of the interest shown, I made sure that ‘wordle’ was included in the next CPD session on ‘motivating learners through the use of freely available online tools’. I decided to focus on just a few so that they wouldn’t be too overwhelmed.

 The handout for that session is included here.

View more presentations from carronshore.

I¬†sensed that¬†the teachers were interested in what I was saying and, as a result, I went off on a tangent (once more!) and introduced them to a number of other tools. At the time, I worried that I was going too fast too quickly and had¬†possibly bombarded them with too much information – I even pointed them in the direction of ¬†http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/¬†. I think this is a fantastic resource, but can find¬†it overwhelming sometimes ūüôā

At the end of the CPD session I was¬† pleasantly surprised again, though,¬†by the¬†feedback – especially the verbal comments as people were leaving. A few of them stopped to thank me,¬†and¬†the impression I got was that, although they felt a bit ‘snowed under’¬†¬†they valued the many practical examples of how I’d used most of the tools mentioned in my own practice.

Social Networking Thoughts

Last week, Ollie Bray came to Falkirk to talk to a small group about Internet Safety and Responsible Use. I really enjoyed listening to what Ollie had to say, especially his views on raising awareness on how the web works (with teachers and parents/carers, as well as students) and about taking responsibility to protect reputations online.

We discussed how children as young as Primary 4/5 stages are now using social network sites like Bebo and MySpace. These sites are not accessible to children in our Local Authority. Staff members, however, can access the sites after bypassing a warning message that they¬†can proceed to the website¬†at their own discretion. Although twitter was also mentioned, it was more in a ‘while we’re on the subject’ sort of sideways conversation.¬†

When¬†I came home, however, I was surprised to read Anna’s new post about twitter¬†¬†and her thoughts about how ” it‚Äôs becoming the new bebo,myspace etc“. I’ve since been followed on my own twitter account by seven of my ex Carronshore bloggers and this has got me thinking about social networks in general.

When I received Anna’s request to follow me on twitter (my account was locked for a short time – but that’s another story), I thought long and hard about the ethics and whether or not this was acceptable. I remember creating a Bebo account in the past to allow me to keep tracks on my No.3 son while he roamed about Canada on a gap year. At the time some Primary 7 girls must have tracked me down on there¬†and I noticed the requests. I (tactfully?) explained to the girls that this would not be appropriate …. so why the change of heart now that the same thing has happened on twitter?

I’ll try to analyse my thinking here:

  • My Bebo site was set up for personal reasons and I was a bit taken aback when the girls (very innocently) requested to follow me. We had shared exchanges online before via the class blog and their individual blogs, as well as this blog, but crossing that line to a ‘social network’ site was¬† definate ‘no no’ at the time. The very thought of us exchanging correspondence¬†out of the public eye just seemed instinctively wrong to me. Actually, it wouldn’t ¬†have made a difference if the sites were public – I would still have felt uncomfortable.
  • My twitter site, on the other hand, was set up initially for CPD purposes.¬†A¬†quick look back at my twitter account origin reveals¬†that the people¬†I first followed were already¬†authors of educational blogs. I was a regular reader of¬†¬†John’s, David’s, Neil’s, David’s¬†and Ewan’s¬†among others and they were all twitter users, so I thought I’d give it a go.
  • I was amazed at the CPD opportunities that twitter offered and blogged about it on a number of occasions on here.¬†And it may even have been similar CPD prospects¬†that helped me¬†decide (not lightly,¬†I might add!) to allow the ex Carronshore bloggers to follow me – and why I feel comfortable following them back.
  • ¬† I feel that I know these students well. When I received the ‚Äėfollow‚Äô invites from Anna, Nina, Bethany, Rhiann,¬† Jaydean, Marc¬†and Ryan¬†I remembered the Blog posts and wiki stories we shared. I’ve blogged on a number of occasions about the change in the classroom¬†climate that was brought about by this sharing. There was¬†a level of trust involved in the set up – but¬†the advantages outweighed¬†any risks
  • ¬†A significant difference¬†between bebo, etc and twitter is that twitter is somehow more accepted in educational circles. Twitter is¬†less likely to be blocked by Local Education¬†Authorities…. and¬†even the CPD Scotland Team encourage¬†its use¬†ūüôā

Anyway, it seems that Anna¬†has started an¬†‘ex Carronshore students’¬† blogging trend …. I hope it continues. It would be great to read more posts from them ūüôā

Secondment Thoughts

Three quarters 

¬†I’m now three quarters of the way through my secondment as an ICT Curriculum Support Teacher (the title has been changed to ‘support teacher’ from ‘support officer’ recently – I think¬†I prefer the new one). During this second half of the secondment, I’ve felt much more confident addressing adults during CPD sessions. This was¬†one of the biggest challenges in the early days.

Undoubtedly,¬†one of the reasons that I feel more comfortable in this role¬†now is because I have more ownership over the courses and activities on offer. Although I was able to introduce some new CPD courses during the first year of the secondment (almost all of these were a direct result of being introduced to new websites and ideas via twitter, by the way!), many of the courses were inherited. This was mainly due to the timing of the interview, as it was necessary to have some courses in place before a candidate for the post was chosen. In fact, apart from the job of supporting staff in developing their school website and maintaining the Virtual Teacher Centre (both the pupil and the staff side), everything else has been designed by me – and I’ve really appreciated¬†opportunity!

¬†As well as offering CPD courses on setting up and sustaining class blogs and raising awareness of free online tools to enhance learning and teaching, I’ve been involved in a number of interesting projects. One of these is an on-going pilot project with a group of children in a local primary school. I’ve set up ePortfolios for them, and in February I have a meeting with the Art Department in their feeder High School to discuss the possibility of developing this in to something that might help the primary/secondary¬†transition stage. Hopefully, other departments¬†will get involved as well.¬†It’s very early days, but the eportfolios also have great potential for formative assessment, as well as self and peer assessment opportunities. Difficulties of setting up effective Personal Learning Plans may also be addressed. I do realise that, for this to work properly, it needs to be an Authority wide initiative.¬†A long term strategy is required¬†…. but it’s a start ūüôā

Off On A Tangent!

….. just because it’s my blog and I can ūüôā

It still amazes me that I’d¬†scarcely heard of a blog until just over three years ago. I’ve written on here¬†before about how I set off¬†on a journey that would change my approach to learning and teaching. The journey also gave me the confidence to allow children to¬†take more¬†of a lead in their own learning.¬†I’ve copied this brief summary from elsewhere on here:

  • First I created a¬†Class Blog¬†so that I could give the pupils an audience for their work
  • Very soon after creating the class blog, I realised that it was important to allow access to the children‚Äôs own work so I created a¬†wikispace for the class to post their writing
  • This didn‚Äôt work well, because if we all logged on and edited the space at the same time, problems occured (a “someone else is editing this space” message)
  • I later¬†discovered that Wikispaces will set up separate username and passwords for students if you email them the information required
  • Soon I¬†wanted the children to have their own blogs, but still have control over how they were used.¬†I¬†learned that¬†East Lothian¬†could help me set up individual blogs .
  • The next session, I¬†managed to safely set up¬†individual blogs on my own¬†‚Ķ‚Ķ ¬†I¬†found out about¬†the ‚ÄėGmail+‚Äô trick. For example, If you have a ‚Äėyourname@gmail.com‚Äô account, it‚Äôs possible to create lots of new blogs using that same e-mail address.¬†You can do this by¬†creating new blogs¬†with a ‚Äėyourname+student1@gmail‚Äô¬†, ‚Äėyourname+student2@gmail‚Äô etc.
  • One¬†advantage is that, although the pupils have¬†admin rights,¬†the teacher¬†can also¬†login to¬†the¬†blogs at any time.
  • Another advantage is that any comments appear in the teacher‚Äôs gmail account ‚Äď even although the¬†children can moderate them, the teacher has a record of what has appeared
  • It‚Äôs quite easy to keep track of what is being posted on the¬†children‚Äôs blogs by using ‚Äėgoogle reader‚Äô, or something similar

One thing¬†I miss while on secondment is the relationships that are built up with children in your own class. So I was delighted, recently, when Anna contacted me on ths blog by leaving a comment on my last post. She’s now in second year at High School, and has decided that she would like to start using her blog again. It was a simple enough task to transfer it over to primaryblogger (where there’s loads of space and a guarantee of no ads). I’m really glad that she wants to do this, and¬†I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting one of my favourite blog posts. Anna wrote this in primary 7 (two years go) and it still makes me smile ….. and she kept her promise of writing her ‘thought of the day’ posts regularly. She also inspired others in the class (including me!) to keep their blogs going at the time:¬†

¬†“Well basically I‚Äôve decided that¬†I would like to have a future in blogging! I think that blogs are interesting and fun to write things on rather than writing something on paper. My thoughts for today are that blogs are a great way to learn, they are more interesting than doing something on¬† paper. When I‚Äôm older¬†I think that¬†I might do something to do with computers. I‚Äôm going to be starting a thing on my blog called thought of the day! Thought of the day is when¬†I write a post about something¬†I have realised, thought or discovered on that day.”

So thanks to¬†Anna’s decision to take up blogging again, she has inspired me (just like before)¬†to¬†write a blog post. It always feels like work at the time, but it certainly helps – me anyway – to stay focussed ūüôā¬†

ePortfolios and Assessment

When¬†I first stumbled upon the idea of using ePortfolios, I wrote that this would be my new recommendation when teachers ask¬†about giving children their own online space. Since then, I’ve spent a few afternoons (3 or¬†maybe 4,¬†I think?) trying to ‘sell’ the idea to to a few Primary 6 stage in Carronshore Primary School. I chose these particular children because I suspected that I’d be welcomed in the school –¬†and I knew that¬†they¬†were already familiar with some of the online tools available to help them tell the story of their learning journey.

I¬†worked with¬†six children (3 girls and 3 boys). During my first visit I tried to explain the advantages of having an ePortfolio. However, researching¬†lots of ¬†published information is one thing – but how do you convey that to 9/10 year olds? After I’d spent some time trying to get the message over in a way I hoped they’d understand,¬†I asked them to go off with one of the school’s mp3 players with a built in microphone and produce a welcome message for their (so far empty wiki shell)¬†ePortfolio. The children were familiar with the voki site and were able to create their characters and then upload their own mp3 file.

Here’s Maryam’s voki – unfortunately voki.com was down at the time of writing this post, but I have a desktop version that I’ve uploaded elsewhere. I’ve learned to be prepared ūüôā

 

¬†I was satisfied that they had¬†grasped the general idea and during my next few visits we discussed and planned more aspects of the ePortfolios, such as what pages to include and what the content should look like.¬† But, of course, building an ePortfolio is a long process and we’ve barely scratched the surface …. but it is a start ūüôā I’ll put a page on the Carronshore blog with links to the ePortfolios.

Meanwhile here’s a link to Jaimey’s ePortfolio.

 

 eport post

 

 

¬†I’m pleased that the Art Department of the local High School are keen to be involved and have asked me along to their next departmental meeting to talk about the experiment. It would be great if the discussion area of the ePortfolios could have input from them (at the moment, it’s just the children themselves – and me).

I was also asked to go along to talk¬† to the L.A. Assessment Group today. I wasn’t sure what their knowledge was. I made a powerpoint presentation to try to show what I’ve¬†learned about ePortfolios so far. I even tried to ‘wow’ them by uploading it to prezi as well ūüôā

Here’s the presentation. I¬†hope they ‘got’ it?

A Successful Falkirk TeachMeet!

 I think we all had a great time at the first Falkirk TeachMeet РI know I did, anyway!

It was great to see it all coming together as people worked very hard behind the scenes to make sure that everything was just as it should be. Katie¬†¬†John¬†Cassie¬†Rich¬†Peter¬†were all beavering about two hours before ‘kick off’. A mention needs to be given to the staff at Carronvale House, Larbert¬†. The venue was great and we couldn’t fault the service and value for money ūüôā

There’s loads of other people to thank, too.¬†John¬†deserves a special¬†mention for doing a brilliant job as M.C.¬†The presenters were all great – and¬†Con¬†had us laughing in the¬†aisles as he entertained us with his singing during his talk on how twitter is a great tool for CPD ūüôā

A great big thank you again, too,¬†to all our sponsors ……..¬†¬† and the loan of the Smart Board from Steljes was just brilliant!

Unfortunately I didn’t get round to timing my presentation (and probably blethered¬†some unnecessary nonsense as well)¬† so¬†I only told half of the ePortfolio story that I’ve been working on with¬†a small group of P6 children recently.

I suppose that making a 7 minute presentation requires similar skills as the art of  summarising what you want to say on twitter? I still struggle to join in with twitter converstations because I usually fail miserably to get points over in just 140 characters.

Here’s the gist of my presentation from TeachMeet Falkirk. It’s followed by some snapshots of the children’s ePortfolios …. and an explanation from one of them as to what¬†he perceives an eportfolio to be about.

View more presentations from carronshore.

Play the presentation below to hear the Primary 6 perspective ………. ePortfolios in Plain English?

Falkirk TeachMeet Update – Take 2

Countdownr

At the time of publishing this post, there’s only just over¬†1 week¬†remaining until the first Falkirk TeachMeet! This is a follow-up to the¬†previous post I wrote about what has been involved in the organisation of the event. A few of us are meeting up at the venue this Thursday to have a think about practical issues such as plug point locations and seating arrangements and general agenda issues.

Thankfully, others had stepped in almost as soon as the wiki had been set up with offers of help:

 Sinclair Mackenzie   organised a Flashmeeting and posted on the wiki that an edit will be made available for replay immediately after the event. So far 8 people from far-flung areas of Scotland Рand at least one other from the other side of the world Рare going to be able to take part during the event Рand many others will be able to easily access it later via the replay.

On the evening, the Flashmeeting will be run by David Noble

Katie Barrowman¬†has organised a Glow Meet¬†– I’m not sure if that’s the first time that this has happened during a TeachMeet event?

Because of all this¬†technical stuff going on, I was asked to find out things. I popped along to the venue and here’s what they told me:¬†

  • wired or wireless – RJ45 connection
  • Broadband
  • no firewalls or restrictions
  • no proxy settings
  • venue will provide a password for wifi
  • download speed is 2264 kbps, upload is 320 kbps¬†
  • I think it all means that the flashmeeting and the Glow meet can go ahead?

    Fingers crossed ūüôā

    But there were other decisions to make about our first Falkirk Teachmeet. For example, John Connell questioned the insistence that all presentations should be based firmly in classroom practice in this excellent blog post.¬†Before reading this, I hadn’t actually thought¬†too much about the¬†rules and regulations involved when organising a local TeachMeet event. It was comforting to be able to call on the other helpers so that we could make collective decisions. We felt that we had to make our own rules to suit our unique circumstances. The majority of the Falkirk Teachmeet attendees are new to the concept and only heard of it via an email that¬†I had permission to send out to all schools and various groups.

    We decided to change the three of the normal rules:

    • ¬†Those who wanted to attend the TeachMeet¬†after reading about it in the email were asked to simply¬†reply¬†and I added¬†their names to the wiki. We didn’t want them to¬†feel they had to¬†sign up¬†directly to the wiki, in case¬†they saw as it as a barrier to attending if they were not familiar with editing online spaces.

     

    • When we noticed that some of the ‘new to Teachmeet’ attendees were signing up to give 7 or 2 minute presentations, we decided to limit the number of presenters. It’s great to see that these new people¬†are volunteering to¬†share their stories of what they’re doing in class and it didn’t seem right that they might leave their first¬†TeachMeet without having had the opportunity to present.

     

    • The third decision¬†was to bend the¬†presentation rule that states, “everything must be happening in a classroom now“. This rule appears on the TeachMeet wiki in the organise your own section and the page was last edited by Ewan McIntosh (one year ago according to the wiki history tab?).¬†The rule¬†appears to have been¬†interpreted¬†to mean that¬†‘YOUR TALK MUST BE ABOUT EXPERIENCES OF WORK IN CLASSROOMS.’ … well, that’s what was copied and pasted by someone on to the Falkirk TeachMeet page and very recently on to¬†the new¬†East Lothian page. On the face of it, therefore, it¬†seems quite controvertial to allow people who are not currently in class to talk ……. and to talk about about things that are not actually happening right now. But in our defence, the decision was made by something¬†Ewan said when he commented on John Connell’s post mentioned earlier:

    “…….Perhaps what‚Äôs required additionally to the realists‚Äô innovations of TeachMeet is that equally essential headspace to think what would happen if? Let‚Äôs call it DreamMeet. You must talk about things that are not happening in classrooms We could have some fun reversing some of the TeachMeet constraints, and it would give me an excuse to put my head back around this particular unconference‚Äôs door!”

    So – I hope that what we manage to do¬†with Falkirk Teachmeet ’09¬†is to have¬†a mixture of things that are happening in real classrooms right now …. and¬†a bit of that ‘DreamMeet’ proposition thrown in for good measure:-)

    Falkirk TeachMeet Update

    tmfalkirk

     

    It’s now 2 months since I wrote a post about how I was ‘toying’ with the idea of arranging a TeachMeet event here in Falkirk – and a lot has happened in that short time. In a couple of weeks, almost 60 people will come along to Carronvale House¬†to take part, and many teachers¬†from Falkirk¬†will have their first experience of this new¬†style of CPD (some of them have also volunteered to share teaching experiences with others in a 7 minute presentation).

    I’ve been reading on twitter¬†that others have also¬†been contemplating organising a local TeachMeet, and some have asked me about the¬†practicalities¬†of¬†planning such an¬†event.¬†¬†This post is a summary of how¬†the¬†initial¬†idea developed.

    When I mentioned the possibility of having a TeachMeet in Falkirk, Cassie Law¬†was very keen. She’d already attended the TM Student edition (where she gave a 7 minute talk) and was sold on the whole idea. Later, we mentioned it to another Falkirk teacher, Richard Olyott¬†– so then there were three ūüôā

    Soon after that, a colleague at work suggested that the idea might be of interest to the primary ICT co-ordinators. We meet with the representatives from each primary school here¬†three times a year. Initially, I was a bit concerened that they’d think that the notion was a bit bizarre … teachers giving up their own free time to attend¬†a CPD event that had been organised by other classroom teachers. I came up with the idea, however, of introducing them to two great free online tools that¬†I suspected they would find useful in their classroom practice at the same time – that way, if TeachMeet wasn’t for them, they’d have gotten something out of the short presentation. The two tools were Prezi.com and the great random name picker tool (traditionally used at all TeachMeets) – both did in fact prove to be a success as they went down a treat ūüôā

    The Prezi I made to introduce the TM concept is included below:

     

     

    ¬†At that time, there was no date set for a TeachMeet event in Falkirk.¬†At the Scottish Learning Festival TM in September the three Falkirk ‘pioneers’ met Nick Tait and Peter Graham, two other interested Falkirk teachers. During an interval the participants were asked to make a promise to do something as a result of having attended that TM. We publically announced on twitter¬†¬†that the Falkirk event would go ahead¬†on the evening of¬†one of our November in-service days. The following day, Nick Tait posted the details on the TeachMeet wiki¬†and the challenge was issued – there was no going back!

    After that, we spent a couple of evenings discussing things on Twitter and decided that the best thing would be to meet up again in person.¬†One of the¬†items on the agenda¬†was a¬†possible venue -and finding the ideal place was proving to be the biggest challenge.¬†Just before¬†our October break, however,¬†I telephoned Carronvale House in Larbert, a venue that Falkirk Council have used in the past for their annual ICT Fair. On paper, it appeared to ‘tick all the boxes’. It’s about a 10 minute walk from a train station where trains arrive directly from Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh (some people from Glasgow had already signed up on the wiki and had requested that the venue be close to a train station),¬†is minutes drive from the motorway, has¬†wireless and wired internet connection, charges half price for evening hire,¬†provides food, has a ‘bring your own bottle’ policy (and even supplies the glasses).

    One of their rooms was¬†available for hire¬†that evening, so after consulting the others via email, we decided to just go for it and book it there and then¬†…. ¬†and worry about paying for it afterwards ūüôā

    During the October break, I emailed Anne from Steljes and asked if there was any chance of sponsorship, and on the same day that she got back to me, Con Morris from the National CPD Team got in touch via twitter to say that they were also going to provide sponsorship. Ross, Louise and John have agreed to support the event as well.

    Ben was  interested in attending a TeachMeet event after hearing about the notion via a conversation with Tom Barrett . I discovered this after reading this twitter post by David Noble:

    TM Parslad

    David’s reference to the fact that some of the people originally involved in getting TeachMeets going would be attending the Falkirk event motivated me to ask¬†¬†John Johnston¬†to chair the Falkirk¬†TM and I’m ‘mega pleased’ that he has agreed to do this. It’s also great that my line manager¬†supports the event and gave permission for me to¬†contact all Falkirk schools¬†via email.

    It’s been quite a journey organising the first Falkirk TeachMeet and¬†this post has only told half the story –¬† I’ll publish now and save the rest for Falkirk TeachMeet Update – take two ūüôā

    ePortfolios Revisited

    A month or so ago, I wrote a post entitled ePortfolios in the Upper Primary Classroom?¬†I’m now¬†¬†investigating using the concept with upper primary stage children in Carronshore Primary School.¬†¬†The children are Primary 6 stage and last session they were given their own wiki space¬†which they used to record some things they’d been learning in class. I want to carry out a wee bit of research to see if it’s possible to use the same type of wiki¬†to create an ePortfilio.

    Before I meet with the children, I need to decide on the purpose for the ePortfolios, and what sort of template design would be appropriate. I’ve already¬†decided to use the basic PBworks academic workspace with the children because they are familiar with the layout so don’t need instruction on how to use it. The children are also familiar with a number of free online tools and how to embed these in to a wiki. As I’m not based in the school at the moment, I think it’s important that a teacher there is involved in the project. The class teacher isn’t familiar with using any type of online spaces, but Evelyn W, who is currently teaching art in the school has just begun to look after the Carronshore Blog, and is keen to be part of the ‘experiment’.

    Before deciding on the structure of the ePortfolios, I’ve done a bit of background reading (again) and come up with some ground rules for myself. These ideas are taken from a variety of sources and are not listed in order of importance:

    • The first page should contain an overview of the eportfolio and provide an explanation of the overall goals.
    • Reflection should be the ‘heart and soul’ of the ePortfolio
    • Be wary of¬† learners¬†focussing to much¬†on technology skills, thereby puting less emphasis on the content
    • Guidelines as to what is to be included¬†shouldn’t be too prescriptive
    • The children should feel they have ownership of the ePortfolio
    • There should be a structure in place, but this should allow freedom for creativity
    • The learning takes place in the constructing of the ePortfolio, rather than in the end product
    • Children need to be introduced to the concept and given clear reasons for constructing an ePortfolio
    • Children should be given regular and useful feedback on their reflections

    I also¬†think it would be beneficial for me to¬†revisit my own experience of using online spaces with upper primary stage children. These spaces were not ePortfolios – but I think that parallels can be drawn. ¬†At the time,¬†background reading helped me to gain a clearer insight¬†and the thoughts that follow have been influenced by;¬†Buckingham, Stern, Lafferty, Green and Hannon – and others………….. that’s the disclaimer bit¬†(I’ll not refer to them individually here).

    Every primary 7 pupil was given the opportunity to personalise their individual blogs. The children chose their own theme and created avatars. This helped them to gain a sense of ownership of their on-line spaces Рthey were allowed to play and experiment with them.  They were, in fact, testing out different versions of current and possible identities Up until then, the main audience for their online spaces was themselves, but they were also eager for peer approval during that stage.

    So –¬†when setting up the ePortfolios for the primary 6 children, Time will need to be given so that the children can customise their wikis. There won’t be as many themes to choose from, but they will be able to use various online tools to help them establish ‘ownership’. For example, activities such as making vokis¬†and designing weemee characters might be useful here.

    ¬†Once their new online spaces were ‘designed and furnished’, the children were free to choose the content of their blog posts and wiki writing. The informal learning that took place happened primarily by means of experimentation rather than by following external instructions and directions.

    Although, the ePortfolios will be more structured than the blogs and wikis were, the children will be involved in the planning stage so that they can have a say as to what that structure should look like, and as to what sort of content should be included. 

    ¬† Guidance was¬†given¬†by providing a sense of online audience by submitting comments on the children’s posts regularly. Offline, new interesting posts were shared with the children. This had the effect of influencing the others to add to their own blogs – often on a similar subject. They acted as role-models for each other. The children were asked if sharing their online writing in this way helped¬†them to get to know each other better:

    • “In our blogs, we’re allowed to write about what we¬†¬†want to write about, so we’ve got to know each other better”
    • “Some people in class don’t talk very much, but I can read their blogs and find out more”
    • “I feel as though I know my friends even more now because of what they write on their blogs”
    • “I like when we read the stories that people in our class have written on their wikis, and how good they are”
    • You get to know what peoples thoughts and dreams are through their stories on their wikis”

    By adopting a similar approach, I hope that it will provide opportunities for¬†reflection and self-assessment …¬†¬†key ingredients¬†for¬†building¬†successful ePortfolios. I also hope that this sense of audience will increase motivation.

    I suppose that an important difference between the blogs and wikis that¬†I’ve used with children in the past and the ePortfolios that we’ll set up soon, is the clearer¬†motive for creating them. This¬† will be discussed at the outset. Goals will be set initially to help establish¬†a sense of purpose.

    tmfalkirk

    I hope to have my first meeting with the children next week and when I get the ePortfolios up and running, I’ll give a wee update as to how things are going at the TeachMeet Falkirk event next month!

    A Timely Reminder

    ¬†Earlier this week, I noticed a request on twitter.¬† …..

    Thanks for the response to my students on using mobiles in school (see http://is.gd/42taB) Anyone else want to add their thoughts?”

    When I visited David’s post,¬†I was reminded of a post I’d put on the Carronshore blog a while back (2007!). I added a comment to the discussion:

    Interestingly, I once asked a primary 7 class what good uses they could think of for using a mobile phone in class. They brainstormed in groups and we came up with this ‘bubbleshare’ presentation (I’m hoping the link will work when I press the publish button).

    http://carronshore.edublogs.org/?s=mobile+phones

    I’m so glad I found your post, because it reminded me that I only have a short while left to rescue the children’s pictures before Bubbleshare disappears …. I also noticed that the actual bubbleshare ‘show’ has been viewed 12568 times. I’ll think it deserves to be put on another webspace and shared again :-)”

    When I logged in to Bubbleshare, I saw this message:

    please read final

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Following¬†the instructions, however, wasn’t as straight forward. For a start,¬†I couldn’t find the “Download album” link – and, anyway, I wasn’t really that bothered about rescuing the pictures, but I liked how we’d summarised each poster in the speech bubble comments. Then I thought about using Screentoaster¬†to try to retrieve our efforts … after all, 12560 views must mean that the slideshow was useful to quite a few people :-). I did try using the SMART recorder tool, but screentoaster is better quality, and has the added bonus of allowing¬†users to upload videos to their own site, so there’s no need to find another host. Once it’s uploaded, the embed code is available. So here’s our rescued ‘Mobile Phone For Educational Use’ video – well done Primary 7 (class of 2007!)

    We have quite a few presentations hosted on Bubbleshare that have had 100’s of views and a number¬†with 1000’s, but there was only one other that had hit the 12000 mark like the ‘Mobile Phone’ one, so I decided to save it, too. The quality is maybe not as good as the Bubbleshare ones, but as JV took these pictures, they’re safely backed up at home :-).

    Although niether the Bubbleshare or the newly saved Screentoaster ones capture the moment as clearly as the originals do, I’m pleased that so many people viewed the presentation. It was a great teaching moment when I shared them with the classes at Carronshore the day after the eclipse.

    A Chartered Teacher Debate

    Recently on twitter I noticed a comment by Fearghal Kelly . He wrote:

    “As you can probably tell this has irked me. Ive been paying thousands for my MEd/CT I don’t want to be told what I can do with it”

    I tried to trace the conversation that led up to him becoming so irritated and I discovered an exchange of views about the role of Chartered Teachers in Scottish education. it was apparent that there was a difference of opinion as to what this role should be. I’ve copied some of the comments from the twitter conversation here (I’ve left out the names of the contributors because some of them have chosen to protect their twitter updates).

    • Do we encourage our best teachers to become CTs, to do research to apply for promoted posts or do we not want to lose them?
    • is it not all about promoting cpd/learning however teachers want to do it? Then you end up with a great workforce.
    • Is it not recognition for the process & learning which you have undertaken – in the past. That doesn’t go away when you leave!!
    • So if they move into something else, what harm will that do? You now have a masters level educator out there you might not have
    • Why? If you’ve paid yourself through a Masters why on earth should that close doors? Couldn’t disagree more!
    • What are you going to do about CT’s who stay in the classroom but don’t do much to warrant the status/cash?
    • I think financial rewards via promotion are readily available. CT status, for me, is a recognition rather than a promotion!
    • Seems, again, just as with Senior Teacher, Chartered T is being used as a stepping stone away from the classroom.
    • I thought the entire point of CT was to reward those that stayed in the classroom, without forcing them into promoted posts?

    But it was the following statement that caused much of the controversy:

    • I think any teacher leaving the classroom within 5 years of gaining CT status should have it rescinded!!!!

    As a result of the ‘debate’, ¬†Andrew Brown wrote this post.

    I’ve copied just a small section of his post here:

    ”¬†…….To me, the entire point of CT was to reward and recognise someone‚Äôs dedication to classroom teaching. I have no objection to people taking up secondments and spending some time out of the classroom ‚Äď in fact, I think many educators would benefit from doing so. But if someone is out for more that 5 years, are they dedicated to classroom practice? Should they go back in at the same level? I think that rescind is too strong a word, but I would call into question someone‚Äôs commitment to classroom teaching if they haven‚Äôt been doing it for more than five years.”

    ¬†I’ve tried¬†to view the debate objectively, but this has been¬†difficult because every individual has their own personal reasons for¬†deciding to¬†embark¬†on¬†the Chartered Teacher journey – different incentives. The reason for this blog post is to help me clarify what motivated me to spend almost 6 years (and a lot of money!) to gain full Chartered Teacher status. So here’s my story ….

    • I’ve now been teaching for 15 years – and I distinctly remember graduating as a mature student¬†swearing that I was finished with studying and writing essays/assignments. I’d spent 4 years at Moray House and had sacrificed a lot of time and effort getting that honours degree whilst bringing up¬†three young children (thanks to JV’s contribution!)
    • 7 or 8 years on, I¬†was aware that the initial ‘buzz’¬†I’d felt at the start of my career had begun to dwindle.¬†¬†Things were beginning to feel a little repetitive. Around that time, the Chartered Teacher initiative was launched and (after a LOT of soul searching)¬†I was ready to ‘go for it’
    • I learned loads during the first 8 modules (2 a year for 4 years) but it was a great deal of hard work …. Christmas and Easter holidays were always spent writing up essays explaining what I’d learned from the various action research projects I’d been involved in.
    • I decided to combine the last 4 modules (2 years worth) into one large dissertation. It took me a while to collect the evidence (and a lot of blood, sweat and tears)¬†so that I¬†could¬†write up the case study, but I’m enormously proud of it ūüôā
    • After graduating as a Chartered Teacher, I applied for a secondment post as an ICT Curriculum Support Officer. It’s a two year secondment, and I’ve spent my time sharing all the great things I learned from my C.T. ¬†journey about how the use of free online tools can improve learning and teaching.

    The twitter debate¬†has led me to ask¬† questions about my right to retain C.T. status if¬†I¬†was¬† given¬†the opportunity to continue to share what I’ve learned after my¬†two year secondment was completed. I suppose the two questions in my mind are:

    • Would¬†my time be better spent back in the classroom using what I’ve learned to¬†improve (hopefully) the education of my own primary school class?¬†
    • ¬†Would my time be better spent trying to spread what I’ve learned to colleagues who can then use this, in turn, ¬†to (hopefully) improve the education of their pupils?

    No matter what the answer is – I believe that I’ve earned the title of ‘Chartered Teacher’ and, as long as I’m continuing¬†to try to make a difference to learning and teaching, why should¬†it be rescinded?¬†¬†Or maybe it’s the financial aspect that’s upsetting people???

    Anyway, I’ve copied a bit from a post I wrote a while ago on here after attending the launch of The Association of Chartered Teachers in the Scottish Parliament building:

     

    ssc_2773

    “…….I felt very proud to be part of the Association. The speeches were uplifting (as was the music!) and I‚Äôll ‚Äėbullet point‚Äô just a few of the messages I heard on the day:

    • It has to be a group decision as to what our role now is ‚Äď it‚Äôs important not to sit passively and be told the way forward
    • We are now in a unique position to take things forward…….”

    TeachMeet Beginnings … in Falkirk?

    teachmeet  blog

     

    I was asked casually recently if I would consider organising a teachmeet event here in Falkirk. I’ve attended four different teachmeet type events – the¬†first¬†one was¬†in 2007¬†. I must have heard¬†about it via someone’s blog at the time. When I signed up to go along and be part of the event, I recognised 3 or 4 names on the list¬†¬† .. but when I look at that same¬†list now, at least 40 of the names are known to me – how my learning network has grown!! Since then, I’ve attended TeachMeet08¬†SLF2008, TeachMeetSE09¬†and LeadMeet09¬†….. and I’ve also signed up for TeachmeetSLF09. It’s evident¬†from the wiki activity that the TeachMeet concept is extremely popular in the¬†UK, and further afield¬†¬†but I wasn’t sure where TeachMeet originated from.

    Organising one here in Falkirk seemed very daunting but it soon became clear that at least a few others might be willing to become ‘co-organisers’. Cassie, Rich and¬†Scott¬†seem ‘up for it’, but how do we spread the message to others in the authority? Over the next two weeks, however,¬†I’ll be in contact with the ICT co-ordinators¬†from each primary school and it seems like a good opportunity to introduce them to the idea. Teachers from schools in each cluster come along for a half day to hear about ‘what’s new in ICT in our authority’ and I have a short slot to talk about a possible Falkirk TeachMeet and get some feedback from them – but where to begin? It seems to me that I need to tell them the whole story in order to ‘sell the idea’. I considered sharing¬†the rules, etc.¬†but the gaps in my¬†knowledge about about the origin of how TeachMeet started¬†led me to ask my twitter network and, as usual,¬†helpful replies began flooding in. Thanks to Nick, Ian, Rob, Ewan, David, another David¬†and Andy¬†( apologies if I’ve forgotten to mention anyone who replied)

    So here’s the¬†story …. as I understand it.

    The story of TeachMeet begins in May 2006. Ian S wrote a blog¬†post about how much he regretted not having been there. He said ¬†…

    ¬†“In 2006 I missed an opportunity. Its not often I look back and ‚ÄėI wish I had done that‚Äô but this was definitely one of them.”

    I can understand why Ian was sorry that he didn’t accept the invitation to attend. According to the ScotEduBlogMeetup wiki¬†it was a great success. This is a quote from the wiki:

    ¬†“What a night!¬†¬† We had a great and productive night and the wifi worked! “

    Andrew Brown also mentioned the impact that ‘meetup’ had on him in this blog post.¬†

    He wrote:

    Last year I went through for both eLive06 and TeachMeet06, which were brilliant. It was a great opportunity to meet up with people that I had been reading online for some time, and put faces, personalities and perhaps most importantly contacts to the words and pictures streaming in to my aggregator. About a dozen people, some of whom I had met before, but a great opportunity. I came home on the train the next day very positive and enthusiastic about the future of developing community around the country/world in using technology in education.”

    ¬†¬†¬†¬†David Muir teachmeet 1 mediumprovided a link on twitter to¬†a photograph taken on the evening in the Jolly Judge in Edinburgh. He mentioned that¬†it was taken¬† …… “before we invented the name“.

    So when did the term ‘TeachMeet’ first appear? How did it evolve from the May 2006¬†ScotEduBlogMeetup …… to newtechmeet…. to the TeachMeet name (and home) we know today?

    Well …… ¬†I’ve found this great discussion of how the name TeachMeet was coined and I think I can trace the ‘invention’ of the name back to David Muir’s contribution to the wiki. David wrote an entry on the discussion area.

    He had this to say:

    ”¬†I posted a whole pile of suggestions – mostly for my own amusement rather than as serious suggestions. I like the sound of ScotEduSlam but I think it falls down on the “does what it says on the tin” criteria. The other one I like is TeachMeet. I saw that Ewan called this page “newtechmeet” and remembered that a wise man once said, “It’s not the tech, it’s the teach!”¬† So I came up with TeachMeet… which almost rhymes.”

    So there it is¬†–¬† the name ‘TeachMeet‘ was ‘born’ ūüôā …. but I still need to find¬†the answer¬†to another twitter question I posed:

    How did [TeachMeet] grow so big so quickly?”

    The twitter responses all point to one source:

    • “How did [TeachMeet] grow so big so quickly?” My guess would be that it was thanks to @ewanmcintosh
    • @ewanmcintosh was the real driving force behind teachmeet but it was also an idea whose time had come!
    • @ewanmcintosh For which we are eternally grateful!
    • TeachMeet came out of many conversations and frustration with establishment. Sleepless nights & ¬£s from me ūüėČ

    The last entry here came from Ewan McIntosh¬†and I’m pleased that he worked so hard to help TeachMeet grow ‘so big so quickly’¬† ……… and there might even be¬†one in¬†Falkirk¬† at some point to add to the ‘TeachMeet portfolio’ ūüôā

    P7 to S1 Transition – Blue Sky Thinking

     Recently I came across a post on the ltscotland glow blog about a transition Glow group success. It was set up to give the primary 7 pupils the opportunity to liaise with the senior pupils at their local High School. I wonder if this is the same Glow group success that was shared at a MIICE conference I attended last session? At that conference, I heard about  Transition projects happening within Glow. As well as the one described here, there were others that linked Primary 7 and S1 pupils via a variety of curricular areas:

    • ¬†S1 pupils read poems to the P7‚Äôs in Glow Meet and there was a¬†question and answer session. The¬† teacher then provided a session on how to write poetry.
    • A High School¬†maths dept. set monthly puzzles for the P7‚Äôs. This gave the teachers valuable insight into the levels that the P7‚Äôs were working at.
    • A¬†P.E. dept. had a huge amount of questions asked about their subject and it¬†gave them an insight as to how the P7‚Äôs were feeling.
    • The English Dept. gave¬†the P7‚Äôs the task of writing a hallowe‚Äôen story. The feeder primary school children held back until the last minute to post their stories because they didn‚Äôt want their ideas to be ‚Äėhijacked‚Äô.

    Our local Authority has just recently signed up for GLOW, so it’s too early to be thinking about using it as a vehicle to¬†support the¬†changeover from primary to secondary.¬†

    I have, however, been pondering the use of online spaces to aid the transition process in some curricular areas:

    • ¬†The first one is a link between some Primary 6 children and the Art Department at their local High School. It’s hoped that senior pupils will be involved, too.

     

    100_8099               100_8101

    ¬†Evelyn is going to showcase the children’s artwork on the blog, and we’re hoping that the primary 6 children will use the class blog and perhaps¬†their online wiki spaces to discuss their artwork. The children in this particular class used these spaces last session with Cassie, their probationer teacher. The aim is to get feedback from High School in the form of comments.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • ¬†The second idea is to create a link with the same set of pupils and the maths department of the High School. I’m hoping to work with the class teacher, ¬†another teacher who has recently been seconded to promote CfE and numeracy across the curriculum and a teacher from the High School maths department.

     

    I intend to re-invent the Carronshore Maths blog ¬†that I set up a while ago and the associated wikis. The Carronshore maths blog isn’t an edublogs supporter blog, though, so I’ll be moving it to primaryblogger to get rid of any adverts ….. and to get access to akismet spam blocker …. and get lots more space, too¬†ūüôā

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I’ve made a ‘help slideshow’ of how to export blog data from edublogs to primaryblogger – it might be of help to someone …

    View more presentations from carronshore.

    Online Spaces – Portability and Longevity

    online spaces

    In a previous post a comment by Ray Tolley got me thinking about what happened to the various online spaces I had set up for Primary 7 stage children in the past.

    Ray commented:

    “Perhaps one important point missed so far is about longevity. Having taken the trouble to help pupils build up an e-Portfolio, what happens if there is no ‚Äėportability‚Äô to the Secondary school or beyond? I doubt that promises of ‚Äėinteroperability‚Äô will really materialise in the next 10-15 years! I think that it is very important to invest in a system that is future-proofed. I feel that children will get very frustrated if they have to start from scratch all over again when they move on to another school.”

    I’ve been revisiting some of the spaces I set up¬†and¬†contemplating primary/secondary ‘portability‘ and ‘longevity‘ issues mentioned in Ray’s comment.¬†Stories of¬†some missed opportunities are¬†outlined¬†below:

    • Portability Issue 1 – Jamie’s Story

    Jamie was typical of most of the boys in the class that year. They seemed less¬†motivated¬†than the girls when it came to imaginative writing tasks. When they were¬†given their own space in a wiki, however, and allowed some freedom as to the subject matter, Jamie demonstrated that he was¬†actually very capable of writing a great imaginative story. I’ve copied some of his story here:

    His face shone dark in the moonlight, while his coat lay torn slowly floating in between the reeds. His shirt was dirty and wet. The dark waters that lay behind him gave him the appearance of a demon or a dark shadowy creature moving in the night. His sheath was well padded and worn away because of constant usage, it had three diamonds encrusted in it. It had a gold rim and a thin copper lining wrapped around it. This lay on his back but it never wieghed him down as it was as light as a feather. He had black boots on and they were half-covered by his camouflage trousers.
    He walked on at a normal pace when he heard a purring noise, after a while he ignored it and carried on his stroll. He heard it again. He was watching a certain bush knowing that there was a creature behind it because of all the wierd purring noises. the world stayed as still as a stick insect as they lay eyes on eachother there was more rustling then the beast came out, a tiger that was as orange as sunset heading speedily at Kai. In reaction Kai drew his sword from his sheath and took a deep slash at the tiger’s leftpaw then stabbed it twice roundabout the same place the tiger had gave in to the pain and there it lay dead……

    Everyone in the class was full of praise for his effort. It turned out that he liked a particular type of story and had read lots of them. He also enjoyed writing them in a notebook that he carried around. His Laughing in the Face of Death story started a craze and soon the boys in the class began carrying their own notebooks where they wrote similar styles of stories. I remember hearing them comparing stories, as well as seeking and giving advice.

    Soon after Jamie’s story appeared on his wiki, we had a visit from two High School teachers from the English Dept. I’m not sure of¬†the original purpose of¬† their visit but at some point our HT had asked some of the pupils to share the class wikispace with them. They were impressed with Jamie’s attempt at story writing and had also¬†heard about our primary stage ‘two stars and a wish’ assessment strategy and had¬†left a comment¬†for Jamie on his wiki space:

    Star 1 ~ Fabulous use of imagery
    Star 2 ~ Fantastic description
    Wish ~ Develop the use of personification

    … but that was the end of the High School teachers’ involvement. They had no idea of¬†the ‘behind the scenes’ ¬†information¬†I was privy to. On reflection, it would have been great if more had been made of that opportunity¬†to bridge the gap between Primary 7 and S1.

    • Portability Issue¬†2 – High School Induction Days

    In June each year, the Primary 7 pupils from our cluster spend three days getting to know their new High School. This is great for helping the transition to s1, and the children’s blog posts¬†about their experience gave further insight into how they coped with adjusting to their new environment.

    Lisa appeared to have no reservations at all! She wrote:

    “I loved Larbert High, it has been one of my¬† best experiences. I made a lot of cool new friends……”

    Tessie, however, wrote about her confusion over the lunchtime arrangements:

    “….after that it was lunchtime. a confusing nightmare. we had to line up and put money on our card which was easy. but then we went to the hub *dinner hall* and we got told to get a drink. easy. but then if you went and said can i have a burger please she would say something about do you have a meal deal drink. and i was like what??? it was weird.”

    Maryam was anxious from the outset:

    “I was shaking in the back seat. My Mum gave me ¬£2.50 for my dinner money. Then when we eventually got there I stepped out the car not knowing which way too go then I saw some other people walking by that were in my class so I just followed them.”

    Last year on the three day visit, I gave¬†the primary 7 pupils some of our mp3 players with built in microphones (they had been used to using these in class) and they interviewed some of the teachers and ‘buddies’. We shared these interviews once the children had came back from their visit. I’ve included one of them here – I have permission from all involved to share this online:

     

    I wonder what potential blogging has for smoothing out the primary/secondary transition journey?
     

    • Longevity Issue 1 – Marc’s Blog

     Of all the primary 7 pupils, Marc was the most successful in keeping his blog going as he moved on to High School. In fact, in April 2008 he received a comment from David Gilmour:

    David commented:

    “Hi Marc, this is just to let you know that last month, April 08, your home page was the second most popular entry page on¬†edubuzz.org, with 2571 visits.”
     
     
    Marc obviously enjoyed his blog that had been set up for him in Primary 7, and he continued writing posts until Second Year at High School. His main love was for drama/singing/dancing (and probably still is!). He began receiving comments containing words of encouragement from like-minded people … comments such as:

    “Hi Marc, i‚Äôm the drama teacher at Knox Academy, just wanted to wow and well done for doing your own theatre company, it‚Äôs very hard work but liking your name and what you are doing! keep me posted in your future projects! break a leg!”

    … and:

    Hi Marc – can you give me the details of the Flannan Isle play that you are doing. I will be doing a project with my class based on the mystery of the Flannan Isle and would be interested to know where I could get a copy of the play. Thanks

    and …

    I’m glad you like Wicked! one of my favourite musicals! if you haven’t seen it yet you must! i seen Idina and Kerry and now booking to see the new Elphaba. We just took S2 and S3 students to see it in London

    These comments were from Drama teachers – not from Marc’s own school, but from schools in another Local Authority. Despite the popularity of Marc’s blog, no-one in his own school ever commented (and the chances are that no teachers there were even aware that he had his own blog). It’s been a wee while now since Marc last updated his blog, but it is worth mentioning that he regularly posted to it for two years after he left primary School.

    • Longevity Issue 2 – Kayleigh’s New Home

    Marc wasn’t the only one that year who continued to post to his blog after he’d moved on to high School. A handful of others posted during their first year of High School. Danni¬†was one of these … and it was amazing to see a comment on¬†her last¬†blog post from Kayleigh.

    Gi Day Danni
    sorry it’s a long time since i spoke last. Iv’e just been so busy at school. I came 4th in the school cross country and 18th in the interschool cross country leauge out of a 110 people the lap was about 3km. They after that we had our faction sports carival (there like the houses we used to have) am in beard which is blue. these are the individal avents i took part in : 100m sprit i came 3rd out of the 8 people i raised ,i came 4th in the 200m out of 8 people, i came 3rd in long jump my longest jump was 3.29m and the last of the these events was the 400m i came 4th out of 8 people. After that we went onto team avents this is what they were: my team got second in leaderball, we came 3rd in flag relay, tunnelball,zigzag realy and shuttle relay But sadly we came last in passball. I have done other this as well i will tell you about them some other time
    have a good on
    from your friend kayleigh

    The comment was from Kayleigh, who’d left Carronshore half way through primary 7 to go and live in Australia. It was just fantastic to read her blog post to say that she’d arrived safely and was settling in to her new life ‘down under’. It was also wonderful that there were 15 comments on that post in reply. These¬†included comments¬†from:

    • ¬†friends in her old Carronshore school
    • virtual friends she’d met via her Carronshore blog who live in another part of Australia
    • classroom assistants from carronshore
    • teachers from Carronshore
    • the HT from Carronshore!
    • a¬†member of staff¬†from another authority in Scotland

    You can read Kayleigh’s post and comments here

    Longevity and portability Issues  РTroubles with edublogs

    The blog posts from the next¬†group of Primary 7 bloggers¬†didn’t have as much success when it came to either ‘portability’ or ‘longevity’ issues. Unfortunately just as these primary 7’s left primary school, edublogs began to have problems with bloggers logging on to their blogs. Passwords had stopped working and I looked for help on the edublogs forum – I discovered that others were also having difficulties accessing blogs.

    I asked for advice:

    I’m also very concerned that all the blogs I set up last session for my class now can’t be accessed by them. They were all added as users (admin status) but have now moved on to High School. If they try to log in, will they not gain access? Although I still monitor their blogs, I’ve no easy way of showing them a way around this new problem. Their blogs can be found at http://mvass.edublogs.org/examples-of-pupil-blogs/

    Luke replied that I should ask the pupils to reset their own passwords … not straight forward in my case because I’d set up the blogs in such a way that I had given the pupils control over their own passwords … equal admin rights.

    Hi Luke,

    The students have their own blogs (set up with the gmail hack). I can reset their passwords because I know their usernames, but can’t then change the new passwords back to their own on because I don’t know what this was.

    They’ve all moved on to High School now so i can’t even ask them!!

    The blogs were set up in August 2007. I know that some used them just recently.

    Because of the gmail hack set up I can access them with my own username and password as I also have admin rights to each of their blogs, but that doesn’t help them to gain access

    The reply was:

    @mvass:
    Quite a sticky situation there. You could maybe add a contact form/note on your blog, asking students who can’t log in to contact you. You can then give them the new password. Other than that, maybe James might have a better idea.

    This problem led to a lot of the primary 7’s being confused as to why they couldn’t access their blogs. I know this was happening because I was receiving ‘change password’ email requests – but I’d no way of getting the new passwords to the ‘High School’ pupils.

    Ok, that was hard work writing this and it’s time to press the ¬†publish¬†button –¬†but I’m thinking¬†that there might be¬†a way forward with¬†some of these ‘portability’ and ‘longevity’ issues ¬†….. watch this space ūüôā

     

    Digital Storytelling ….. and ePortfolios?

     

    digital

    Last session I demonstrated to various groups of teachers how to use Audacity with Windows Moviemaker to make what I termed a ‘Vodcast’. I think this was the most popular of the courses that I presented. After taking part in the ‘hands-on’ sessions, even the teachers who lacked confidence in their ICT skills went away with something that they knew they could use in class the next day.¬†I’d used the process with my own classes¬†on quite a number of occasions, so was able to demonstrate a variety of possible uses. A few examples are included below to show how pupils used this to:

    • ¬†recount what they’d learned on a class trip by using photographs to jog memories
    • illustrate a story they’d written, and retell it orally
    • talk about favourite books and show a slideshow of front covers and¬†page illustrations
    • provide an oral and visual account of what they’d learned about a particular topic

    Windows Moviemaker and Audacity (and lame encoder) are installed in all PC’s in our Local Authority, and next session I’m hoping that Photostory3 will also be installed. ¬†I’m¬†looking for ways¬†to¬†develop the opportunities for using ‘vodcasts’ in the classroom next session. I’ve heard¬†the phrase ‘digital storytelling’¬†¬†and decided to investigate this concept further.

    Of course, there’s also a wide variety of freely available online tools that can be used to create your own web-based story, too, and more than 50 of theses tools can be accessed here. The wiki ‘owner’ mentions that it wasn’t long ago that producing multimedia digital content required expensive equipment and technical expertise, but that¬†we are at the point now where we can do some very compelling content creation with nothing more complex than a web browser. The stories can¬†include¬† basic use of media types – images, text, video, and/or audio.

    So – what else have I found out about digital story-telling?

    The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling website¬†describes how British photographer, educator and digital storyteller, Daniel Meadows defines digital stories as “short, personal multimedia tales told from the heart.” He maintains that¬†the beauty of this form of digital expression is that these stories can be created by people everywhere, on any subject, and shared electronically all over the world.

    I also found a publication by the Educause learning Initiative¬†and I’ve copied bits and pieces that seemed to make sense to me and I’ve included them here:¬†

    • “Digital Storytelling” is an emerging term, one that arises from a grassroots movement that uses new digital tools to help ordinary people tell their own ‘true stories’ in a compelling and emotionally engaging form.
    • It is the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video, to create a short movie, typically with a strong emotional component.
    • Digital stories can be instructional, persuasive, historical, or reflective
    • Some learning theorists believe that as a pedagogical technique, storytelling can be effectively applied to nearly any subject.
    • Constructing a narrative and communicating it effectively require the storyteller to think carefully about the topic and consider the audience‚Äôs perspective.
    • ……. to facilitate various learning styles and connect to students‚Äô interest in technology, and, for students, to develop their ability to appropriately evaluate and use online content and electronic tools as a means of personal expression.
    • A digital story typically begins with a script. The storyteller then assembles rich media to support the ideas and emotions in that script, including music or other audio effects, personal or public-domain images, animations or video, and other electronic elements.
    • Digital stories let students express themselves not only with their own words but also in their own voices, fostering a sense of individuality and of ‚Äúowning‚ÄĚ their creations

    But I also found this statement:

    • Moreover, digital stories are a natural fit for e-portfolios, allowing students not only to select representative artifacts from their academic careers but also to create compelling resources that demonstrate the student‚Äôs learning and growth.

    Could helping the children to use digital storytelling in their wikis be a starting point for setting up their ePortfolios as described in my previous post?

    I’ve also been looking at the ePearl Portfolio Project¬†mentioned by David in a comment on that last post and now have usernames and passwords to check out their demo site. And today I’ve been checking out the UniServity website after being made aware of it via yet another blog comment. Both these projects look like they’re full of great ideas, but could a wiki serve the purpose just as well?

    Next blog post pending …….

    ePortfolios in the Upper Primary Classroom?

    Recently, I’ve been reading about ePortfolios … e-portfolios …. and even Eportfolios (not sure which one to use!) Anyway, when¬†I first heard the term I looked it up and immediately thought that the concept would be great to use when giving children their own online space. I’ve been introducing teachers here to class blogging … but after a time, they¬†tend to¬†ask me how they can give the children their own space. I can understand this – it’s exactly what led me to giving the children in my own class a page in a class wiki –¬†then eventually their own wiki, and their own blog. The next question I’m asked is always…. ‘So – how should the pupils¬†use the space?’ After more than two years of giving children their own online spaces, you’d think I’d have been able to answer that question straight away – but I always hesitate. I’ll attempt to reflect here on why that was.

    Year One

    The first attempt at giving the children an on-line space was via a page on a class wiki. There were four wikis, actually – one for each type of writing. The children either wrote class work directly on to the wiki or, if they didn’t have the typing skills, they would put on a short section of whatever they had hand written. They also had a space on our topic wiki, and they learned how to upload pictures, slideshares, videos, etc. There were even maths group problem solving spaces where they¬†wrote about¬†on what they’d been doing in class …. and early attempts at making group podcasts to say how they’d solved some maths problems. At some point the children were given their own blogs where they wrote about school related items.

    Year Two

    With my next class, I¬†began to allow the children¬†more freedom over how they used their on-line spaces. To begin with, I’m not sure they knew what to do with this freedom …. this quote from Anna’s blog will demonstrate what I mean:

    ‘Well a couple of days ago me and courtney were pestering Mrs Vass and asking her about blogs and stuff and me and courtney were a bit stuck about what we could write on our blogs.So Mrs Vass made it very clear to me anyway that a blog is like an online diary and i found it intresting because everyone in my class thinks a blog is only for school stuff and its not its like courtney has been writing about Dundee.Anyway i just wanted to make it clear that a blog is not only for school stuff so thanks Mrs Vass for telling me that!

    What happened after that was just great! The children began to use their blogs for reflection – what they wanted to do when they were older, worries – and hopes – for High School, thoughts about family life, hobbies,¬†etc. etc. They were also keen for the blog posts to be read out to their classmates, and this led to inspiring others to go home and write their own post. I’ve written a few blog posts in the past about the positive impact of giving the children more ownership over their blogs.

    The children also began to use their wikis for writing imaginative stories. The quality of writing on their wikis was far superior to the writing they were producing in jotters during class time. Again, I’ve blogged about the great teaching opportunities that arose from sharing these stories on the whiteboard ….. not to mention important lessons that were learned about copyright issues ūüėČ

    So why the hesitation in recommending that other class teachers leave  children to their own devices?

    Well, on reflection, it may have worked so successfully for me because the children were actually very well aware of the fact that their use of their online spaces was going to be used in the case study I was writing up for my Chartered Teacher course. Because I was going to be quoting them in my write up, permissions had to be granted by everyone involved. They were also aware that I was blogging about the whole journey, and a couple of them even left comments on my blog.

    I’m not sure what would happen if children were just handed these spaces and told to ‘get on with it’ …. would it turn out to be¬†no more that a bebo or myspace type of thing??¬† ….. not that¬†I think that would be totally wrong, either – but that’s another story ūüôā What I’ve been¬†lookng for,¬†is something in between simply using the space for classwork and a kind of ‘laissez faire’ policy.

    Could a type of ePortfolio be the answer – and if so, what form would that take? I’ve been reading a bit about ePortfolios and here are some thoughts so far ….. wee snippets taken from literature I’ve visited (apologies that there’s no direct link to original sources)

    What is an ePortfolio:

    • In general, an ePortfolio is a purposeful collection of information and digital artifacts that demonstrates development or evidences learning outcomes, skills or competencies.
    • A collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievements¬†

    What should they look like?

    • They should be purposeful. Without purpose, an ePortfolio is just a folder of student work
    • The student work included in the portfolio should be that which best tells the story¬†they want to tell – so they need to justify their choice of content.
    • There¬†should¬†be¬†evidence of student self-reflection

    What’s the teacher’s role?

    • They will¬†only have the desired effects if¬† planned¬†for carefully
    • There needs to be clearly defined criteria¬†to allow students to¬†paint a picture of their efforts, growth, and achievement
    • Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey
    • Assessment techniques¬†should improve achievement and not just monitor it
    • Assessments should align with what¬†is considered important outcomes in order to communicate the right message to students and others about what¬†is valued

    What about the pupils?

    • Students need¬†to see samples of good self-reflection so that¬† thoughts and comments go beyond “I think I did OK” or ” I think I have more to learn.”
    • Criteria¬†should identify what is most valued by students and teachers alike
    • Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.

    Well there it is! My new recommendation for next session when teachers ask about giving children their own online space.

    Blogs or wikis?? I’ll¬†suggest wikis –¬† I have recollections of the primary 7’s not liking the fact that their blog posts seem to disappear (archived).¬† Also, on a wiki, the menus at the side and the discussion facility facility on blogs¬† just seem to lend themselves more to the purpose?

    Wow!¬†¬†Writing this post¬†has been¬†a learning journey for me ……. and it’s¬†only thrown up more questions that I want to find anwers to …..¬†time to hit the publish button¬†ūüôā

    Secondment – Half Way Thoughts

    The first¬†half of my 23 month secondment as an ICT Support officer is now over – and it went by in a flash! I think I spent most of it ‘finding my feet’. The courses I provided were¬†a mixture of¬†ones that were either:

    • in place before I came in to post
    • developed to meet the needs of particular schools
    • added by drawing on tools and activities I had used previously in my own classroom practice
    • devised as a direct result of having heard of their existance via my twitter network.

    Like last session, I plan to prepare CPD activities (just one of a number of remits) by introducing teachers to the available online¬†tools¬†I learn about via twitter. Courses on using tools such as¬†Xtranormal¬†or GoAnimate¬† were¬†¬†well received¬†last session – and I would not have known of their existence if it hadn’t been for the sharing culture I’ve become accustomed to by following my fellow ‘twitterers’.¬†¬†More and more¬†useful free online tools are becoming available at such a fast pace that it’s hard to keep up. Next session, I have some new ideas planned – but this post will concentrate on just one :

    Blogging with Classes

    The best find I’ve discovered for next session is a new blog host to recommend to teachers here. I came across it via an email a colleague at work received.¬†When¬†I took up this secondment post, I had been using edublogs¬†for a couple of years.¬†There were little annoying things like the slowness, and the occasional unexpected ‘down-times’ .. but it was free and it was¬†under the umbrella of ¬†‘education’ so it served my purpose.¬†I’d also used eduBuzz to host¬†a blog that I wanted to set up to compliment our photaday project adventure – and this led me to have the confidence to set up pupil individual blogs thanks to David Gilmour’s¬†expertise ūüôā

    The following year, I managed to successfully set up individual pupil blogs via edublogs. At the time, they recommended using learnerblogs for pupils. The blogs were set up in such a way that I had equal administrative rights on each pupil blog, and comments needed to be moderated before appearing on a blog. This set-up worked well for a while. During the course of the year, however,¬†learnerblogs were no longer supported by edublogs and advertisements began appearing on the pupils’ blogs. Annoying spam comments also began to surface on a few of the blogs.

    One weekend, however, I noticed a disturbing comment on the class blog. It was from one of the primary 7 pupils. Monica wrote:

    Hey i really enjoyed Crucial Crew it was great fun. Please would you visit my blog as someone has left a comment i dissaprove of. I dont knoe who it is. It is quite rude.
    Bye x

    When I investigated her blog, I was horrified to find that the comment was extremely offensive … so much so, that I¬†immediately deleted her blog¬† – a decision made in haste. I spent the rest of the weekend setting up edublog accounts for the children and, on the Monday, I demonstrated to the class how to export all the information from their learnerblog accounts and import it in to their new edublogs one. I also explained how to activate the Akismet plugin and gave them¬†a necessary¬†API Key¬†to enable it to work.

    All went well after that, and I successfully completed a case study on my experience of giving the children in my class their own online space – and when I¬†started my secondment post, I had no problem recommending using edublogs as a free blogging¬†platform for other teachers in the Local Authority. The recommendation was short lived, however, when inapproriate adverts began appearing on the edublogs class blogs. The only solution was to sign up to be an edublogs supporter. It doesn’t cost a lot, really,¬†to make a blog ad-free, and you can add 30 more blogs (a class set?)¬†to that account so that they’re ad-free, too.

    But there’s¬†a catch …..¬†being ad-free is¬†all they’re entitled to. There’s no option on these blogs to add any plugins – so Monica’s ‘extremely offensive’ spam comment could be repeated again and again … much more disturbing than just an annoying advert!!

    And then it happened .. PrimaryBlogger to the rescue!!

     

    I’ve already moved the Carronshore edublogs class blog over to Carronshore primaryblogger.

    Cassie and primary 5L/W did a fantastic job of keeping it going last session. Next session, Evelyn W Рour school art specialist (and my Chartered Teacher buddy), will use it to allow the Carronshore pupils to display and discuss their artwork.

     I plan on providing three twighlight sessions:

    • A ‘taster’ session to introduce participants to the world of blogging with classes
    • An introductory session on how to set up a class blog
    • A third session to explore¬†activities and available tools that can be used to take class blogging further

    I’ve also (very quickly and easily) set up some ‘training blogs’ that can be used during twighlight sessions. These are shown in the screenshot below. Everyone will sign in to the main falkirkcpd blog, then scroll to their allocated blog on the dashboard. I’ve set 10 up, with the idea that participants can work through activities¬†in pairs.

    get-another

    I’m off now to work on ideas for giving children space on a wiki so that they can build up their own ePortfolio. Thanks to Jaye for introducing me to the concept …. via twitter of course ūüôā

    Twitter to the Rescue Again …. and Again…. and Again

    I have three things (at least) to thank Twitter for recently –¬†and¬†I’ve been so grateful for all three that I’ve¬†‘harassed’ myself all day into writing this blog post!

    So here goes:

    • First big thank you is to Jaye¬†for the Glow mug.¬†I mentioned on twitter that¬†I thought it might be a good idea if she gave me one of her newly aquired hoard – and she did – much appreciated:-)

    New Glow Mug! from margaret vass on Vimeo.

    • Next up – a great big thank you to John McLear¬†for helping me on twitter when I couldn’t get a photopeach story to play on Falkirk’s ‘soon to be’ new blogging platform¬†The conversation went a bit like this:

    primary-blogger1

    The¬† Carronshore Blog home is in safe hands, I think. The promise of being free, having no ads, and speedy twitter (and email) help is just grat – what more do we need ūüôā

    • The number¬†3 Twitter rescue happened this weekend when I logged on and discovered that some twitter contacts were logging in to CANVAS¬†. I’d forgotten¬†my login detais, but one of the ‘twitterers’ was Derek Robertson¬†and he¬†sent me a twitter direct message and I was able to visit the world. All didn’t go too well on that visit ūüôā

     

    … But I got there eventually.

    ¬†Here’s some images¬†already in the Falkirk¬†CANVAS Art Gallery space. They’re all by¬†the children at Carronshore Primary School –¬†I’ve also included¬†some others that will be added soon – enjoy:-)

    CANVAS on PhotoPeach

    Another Twitter Find!

    On Friday¬†I logged on to my twitter account to see what was happening. I’d signed up for the education 2020 ¬†¬†flashmeeting session – but I’ll save that experience for another post ūüôā

    When I logged on to twitter I found (as usual) loads of¬† links to new sites useful for education. One of these was praising http://photopeach.com/home¬†so I’ve been palaying around with it today. My effort looked good to me on the photopeach site … so fingers crossed that it’ll look good on here too ūüôā

    The Story of the Carronshore Blog on PhotoPeach

    Xtranormal.com

    I’ve just been going through my RSS feed links and came across this post. In the comment section, David Gilmour¬†mentioned http://xtranormal.com .

    “……I started to wonder if games might provide an engaging context for storytelling, especially if there was the prospect of mocking up the result in a game-like software environment such as http://www.xtranormal.com? If so, please lob it into your project ideas pile.

    BTW, as something of a a punctuation pedant, I just love the way that xtranormal.com reads your text exactly as you‚Äôve punctuated it. That‚Äôs got to be a better form of feedback than marking ‚Äď comment-only or not ‚Äď can ever provide.”

    I’ve used xtranormal before, and I’ve spread the word to other teachers here, but David’s comment has made me aware of the fact that it also reads the text as it has been punctuated – that hadn’t dawned on me before. Thanks David! As usual, I heard about this tool via twitter¬†and must have then tweeted about it again, because David went on to comment:

    “….I only discovered http://xtranormal.com last week when mvass tweeted about it. I should have credited her with the discovery, and for sharing it; not that she has complained, of course.”

    Now that David has commented about it on Neil’s post, I see that there are a few other teachers who have been introduced to it. In the spirit of sharing, I’ll post a (very basic) help ppt. I made. I’ve also made a further help guide for teachers who want to give pupils in their class their own account, while still maintaining some degree of control over its use ……. I should also point out that there may be one or two inappropriate gesture options available, but like many of these new tools, the advantages of using it far outway the disadvantages (in my opinion!)

    Here’s the very basic ‘getting started’ guide:

    Xtranormal.com

    This one is a guide to using googlemail to set up student accounts:

    Google Trick

    GLOW and the VTC (take 2)

     

    glowlogoscotlandflag2

    Last week I wrote a post about how the Falkirk VTC¬†might be used as a vehicle to help introduce teachers here to GLOW. The staff area of the VTC was password protected until¬†I came in to post¬†and I’ve been thinking about its new look and feel for a while now. I’m hoping that it can soon be revamped (yet again!) and become the new Falkirk VTC Curriculum for Excellence site….. an August launch?¬†– better get a move on¬†¬†ūüôā

    So where does Glow fit in with these new plans for the VTC? Recently I spotted this section on the LTS website and I homed in on these words:

    ¬†“As Glow rolls out to more local authorities in Scotland, the importance of its role in driving forward Curriculum for Excellence is becoming clear.”

    So could our Local Authority do the reverse and use our new Curriculum for Excellence website to help the roll out of Glow here?

    I’ve had a guest Glow account for a number of months now, and I’ve played around with looking at ways of uploading vokis and animoto videos to a Glow group I’ve made¬† – audience of one so far ūüôā

    I imagine it will be a while before all the classroom teachers here will be in a position to use Glow with their own classes. Those who are keen, though, will want to have a ‘play about’ just like I did. I wondered if setting a weekly or fortnightly ‘challenge’ on the VTC might be something that could help familiarise them with Glow – and at the same time introduce them to some of the great new freely available social software tools that (with a little imagination) can add so much to the teaching and learning experience.

    When I was contemplating all this, I noticed some twitter posts from Con Morris. He talked about setting some of his LTS colleagues 10 CPD challenges such as:

    • finding and using images
    • writing for the web
    • sharing presentations
    • using (or starting) a National Glow group

    ….. and more.

    I’m not sure of the context here, but Con did say in one of his posts:

    ……. ‘setting LTS colleagues 10 CPD Challenges on the 11th of June that befit a national devt officer in the 21st C.’ (I hasten to add that I did ask¬†Con’s permission to quote his twitter ‘tweets’ here!)

    If I do set some challenges (with support)¬†for teachers to help them use Glow and some of the 21st C. online tools, will it have the positive effect that I think Con hopes for …….. or will it have the opposite effect¬†like the one¬†Jaye described in her comment she left on a previous post?

    Hmmmm – time for yet another think, I think ūüôā

    Ruth's Presentation!

    This is just a quick post to share the presentation Ruth Cunningham gave at the MIICE¬†conference last week. I thought it was just splendid! I’ve shown it to my colleagues at work here this afternoon and they were mighty impressed as well. I did try to put it into Window’s Movie Maker so that I could add Titles and Credits (but it just wouldn’t accept it (very jerky – maybe because¬†I converted it from quicktime to wmv format?)

    Anyway, here’s the wmv version – enjoy ūüôā

    Ruth Anne Cunningham’s Presentation from margaret vass on Vimeo.

    Glow, VOTW and the VTC

     votw

    Paul¬†¬†¬†left some reply messages on my twitter in response to¬†one of the bullet points in my¬†previous post¬†¬† when I wrote about what I’d heard at the recent ¬†MIICE¬†conference. I’ve just noticed that Jaye left a comment on the blog post about the very same bullet point.

    She commented:

    “Nice to have you back blogging after a wee hiatus – and sounds like an interesting conference. One thing bothers me slightly though, and thats the wording from the LA presentation which talks about

    ‚ÄĚ School-wide challenges will be set from the centre so that staff and pupils are given a real reason to use Glow‚ÄĚ

    This smacks of top-down central control to me, and, in my opinion anyway, will have the opposite effect to the one perhaps intended as schools will see GLOW use as an imposition from on high rather than being within the context of the school’s and student’s daily work and having come from them…I think it’s the fast track to less use of GLOW if it’s seen as a project sent down from on high..

    I hope that schools in this authority will resist this, and find ways (of which there are so many) to use GLOW to support their own work in learning and teaching in a way thats contextual and relevent to their individual and collective needs as pupils, teachers, classes, age/stage groups and schools‚Ķ”

    I’m really glad that I made it clear that what I was writing was my interpretation of what was said, and that¬†I might have heard only¬†what I wanted to hear. I also added that what I was¬†recording¬†on the post¬†may not have been what was meant by the presenter ūüôā

    Thankfully I was being ‘green’ last night and hadn’t thrown the original notes I took at the conference into the food bin. Having rescued them, I now see that what I wrote down for that bullet point was actually:

    • School wide challenges set from centre

    I have no idea what the presenter meant by that phrase or what context it was said in. I was scribbling down quickly¬†what I felt could be relevant to my own situation. My scribbled notes also showed that I had added something on to the presenter’s statement.¬†I had¬†scribbled:

    (VTC?!?!)

    This is very significant to me ¬†– because of all the things the presenter said, that one small statement saw lightbulbs flashing in my head. Isn’t it strange that the statement that filled me with inspirational ideas is the one that set alarm bells ringing in my twitter friends heads ūüėČ

    I’ll try to explain why those lightbulbs started flashing!

    I’ll begin by revisiting a post I made on this blog whilst researching for my Chartered Teacher dissertation. In a response to that post, Ewan McIntosh¬†commented:

    The notion of work patterns seems to correlate to the traditional classroom‚Äôs ‚Äėroutines‚Äô. If an online community is going to be successful people always need a reason to go back to it. This is where routines and regular ‚Äôspecial events‚Äô help people have that kick into action in those parts of the course where motivation begins to flag. Is this what your tutor means?

    Initially, I disagreed with Ewan’s thoughts. I wanted the children to have control over their own blogs, rather than have me directing them. I’d tried¬†directing pupils’ blogs¬†previously and it had failed because the class didn’t have ‘ownership’ of their own online spaces. I’d¬†also approached Jackie Marsh¬†via email and she backed up my thoughts when she said:

    ………….. I like the way you are letting the children drive the use of the blogs, that is so important if they are going to be successful…………

    I think her advice is the key to achieving success when giving children in your class their own blog.

    Later in the dissertation journey I¬†wrote¬†an Online Communities¬† blog post. I’d come across Gilly Salmon¬†who believes that:

    “We find that everyone needs human support to take part successfully in online communities. I give the name ‚Äėe-moderator‚Äô to this person since, although some of the skills are the same as those of group facilitators, there are some new ones too. The e-moderator‚Äôs role in such rich and interactive environments is both rewarding and demanding!

    E-moderators need to give very explicit attention to enabling and promoting all aspects of online socialisation. To succeed in fully engaging the participants and promoting their active involvement, imaginative and creative images will be needed! Energies can to be harnessed towards the shared enterprise and purposefulness of the learning community. In a sense, e-moderators create a special little cultural experience belonging to this group at this time through discussion and negotiation”

    I think it was only at that point that I began to understand what Ewan had meant when he left his comment.

    One of my remits at the moment is to look after the Falkirk VTC¬†website. I’m not an E-moderator by any stretch of the imagination –¬†but when the presenter at the MIICE conference talked about ‘school-wide challenges¬†being set from the centre‘, I wondered if the VTC¬† could be used as a vehicle¬†to¬†allow teachers to become more comfortable with ¬†Glow.

    How might that happen?

    To explain how it might happen, I need to re-visit the Voices of the World project. The project is described as being:

    a place to connect educators around the world.
    This network was created by Sharon Tonner, now a University Lecturer, to connect children together using their voices rather than the written or typed word. It was also created to enable children to develop an appreciation of different languages, accents and dialects from around the world.

    But what it also did was to introduce teachers to freely available¬†online¬†sites¬†like Voki , Animoto … and a¬†whole host of other sites that¬†have the potential to¬†enhance teaching and learning experiences.¬†Because the learning¬†tasks¬†were very basic,¬†the class teachers were able to concentrate on ‘getting to grips’ with the¬†online tools¬†– and it soon became apparent that they were beginning to use these tools in their mainstream lessons, too.

    So …… is the VOTW model one that could be used here to introduce teachers to Glow??

     

     

     

     

     

     

    My Introduction to MIICE

    I’d not really heard of MIICE before being seconded to my new post. I wonder if that’s the same for other classroom teachers? I went along to Glasgow University on Friday not knowing what to expect.¬†¬†I really enjoyed the conference, but two items have stayed with me – hence the reason for this post.

    The first item was a presentation about how GLOW has been rolled out in one of the Local Authorities. My own L.A. has recently signed up to GLOW and I was interested because the L.A. representative giving the presentation talked about the challenges, the successes the how they envisaged the way forward.

    Here’s my interpretation of what was said – I might have heard only¬†what I wanted to hear, though, and realise what I’m recording here may not be what was meant by the presenter, so I’ve not mentioned any names or supplied any links ūüôā

    The Challenges

    • Glow training was done in 2007, but the accounts were not issued until 2009 so much of the information from the training was forgotten in the interim
    • Initially there was¬†confusion¬†when many people forgot their¬†user names/passwords
    • There was some uncertainty about reporting and help desk procedures.¬†
    • Two development officers have been seconded to help out with these problems (23 schools each), but the available¬†funding for this will soon run out.
    • There is at least one mentor in every school, but the grant from LTS that supported this has been lost.
    • ¬†They learned that it was not enough to ‘bolt’ Glow on to Improvement plans, but schools now need justify the use of how Glow can link to CfE.¬†This requires CPD.
    • Mentors are learning that they need to delegate tasks. One person can’t support all staff.

    The Successes

    • Some schools are beginning to post information on to Glow Groups, so encouraging less need for paper¬†to be¬†used.
    • Because staff need to log on to Glow to access information, they are less likely to forget their username and password!
    • Even in larger schools there may not be many users – but those who are using Glow are producing quite impressive stuff
    • ¬†Three transition projects were described:

    Transition Project (1) – S1 read poems to the P7’s in Glow Meet and there was a¬†question and answer session. The¬† teacher then provided a session on how to write poetry.

    Transition Project (2) – Various depts in a large High School initiated Glow p7/S1 transition activites. For example the maths dept set monthly puzzles for the P7’s. This gave the teachers valuable insight into the levels that the P7’s were working at. The P.E. dept had a huge amount of questions asked. This gave them an insight as to how the P7’s were feeling. The English Dept. gave¬†the P7’s the task of writing a hallowe’en story. The feeder primary school children held back until the last minute to post their stories because they didn’t want their ideas to be ‘hijacked’ ūüôā

    Transition Project (3) – Primary 7 pupils chatted to High School prefects on Glow. Different types of questions began to be asked as the ‘question and answer’ sessions progressed. At the start of the session, the questions were very trivial, but as¬†the P7’s got more used to asking questions on Glow,¬†the began to ask more relevant questions. For example, questions such as, ‘How do I get around¬† the one-way system at high school?’ became the norm.

    The Future

    • CPD events are planned so that they cater for both basic¬†and advanced Glow users
    • School-wide challenges will be set from the centre so that staff and pupils are given a real reason to use Glow
    • Training will be open to ALL interested parties – not just Glow mentors

    ¬†The second highlight of my experience of a MIICE conference was when Ruth Cunningham, who is¬†nearly at the end of a postgraduate diploma to become a primary teacher, gave an¬†awesome presentation…. I hope¬†I’ll be able to share it¬†on here very soon ūüôā

    The CANVAS/Glow Event

    Yesterday I attended the CANVAS/Glow event in Stirling. Here’s my thoughts on the day.

    What is Canvas?

    The title CANVAS stands for ‘Children‚Äôs Art at the National Virtual Arena of Scotland’.

    It is a ‘virtual art space where Scottish pupils can exhibit their still or moving image art. Access to CANVAS will be through Glow and with this comes the opportunity to exhibit pupils‚Äô work, in a safe and secure environment, to the huge audience of pupils and teachers throughout Scotland. Not only will pupils be able to exhibit their work but they also will be able to appear in-world, represented by a virtual character called an avatar, so that they can talk via a chat facility to gallery visitors who come to visit and view the art works on show in CANVAS’

    When I read the description of the event, I knew it was something I wanted to find out more about.¬†We were asked to bring along some examples of children’s art work, as well as¬†videos of the pupils talking about their work. I contacted the school I’m seconded from, because I knew I’d be able to work with the children there .. and the art teacher at the school is someone I’d worked with closely in the past, as we both ‘journeyed’ through the Chartered Teacher course at the same time. The timing was also great because the school was holding an art exhibition to allow any interested parties to view the artwork of every child.

    The Virtual Gallery for each Local Authority holds 30 pictures, so we asked a visitor to the exhibition to choose the artwork that would be uploaded to CANVAS. The only stipulation was that there should be work from the various stages of the school. We didn’t want to choose the pictures ourselves lest we were accused of favouritism. Pictures were then taken of the photographs and the artists. I visited the school again so that I could video each child talking about how the artwork was made. I then converted the videos to .flv files using http://media-convert.com/¬†… it was amazingly simple to do!

    Every child from primary 1 to primary 7 spoke competently about the materials used and the steps involved in arriving at the finished piece of work. I won’t put the videos on here, but I’ve included just a very small collection of the pieces and I’ve extracted the audio from the videos (the second and third recordings below aren’t as clear as they are in the video – my fault!)

    viking
    Listen to the artist’s notes here!

     

    kelpies
    Listen to the artist’s notes here!

    hitler

    Listen to the artist’s notes here.

    The CANVAS / Glow Event:

    We spent the fist section of the morning familiarising ourselves with CANVAS. I’d briefly spent time on Second Life the day before the event and had very quickly found myself lost at sea. The Canvas world, however, is confined to one island, so there’s no need to venture out over endless oceans! Each Authority has their own exhibition space – and the creators have already put council logos at the entrances.¬†There were a few teething problems as we all tried to upload pieces of artwork at the same time, but this wouldn’t normally happen anyway – and the¬†local server we were using was very small compared to L.A. ones.

    Although I’ve included pictures in this post, the effect of seeing them hanging grandly in the Falkirk Exhibition Space was quite awesome. There¬†is also a zoom feature, that had the effect of making the artwork look 3D. For example, if I was to zoom in on the Viking brooch shown above, it would look just like the original piece. A few gasps could be heard from my colleague as we zoomed in on some sunflowers! There is a forum where¬†visitors can leave comments about any of the pieces of art work, and as mentioned earlier, there’s also a function that allows visitors to the galleries to have typed conversations with each other.

    We weren’t able to upload the videos to the galleries, but once the pictures were in place and we’d had a good look around, we were taken to the transporter area – very ‘Star Trek’ like! – so that we could be quickly taken to any other Local Authority Exhibition space.

    The Post-Event Discussion:

    I was surprised to hear that representatives from two of the authorities had reservations about the text chat function. These included:

    • A fear that children might arrange to meet in a certain exhibition space at a¬†specific time to discuss bullying tactics that could be used on others in the ‘real world’
    • A feeling of discomfort that the younger children could find theselves alone in an exhibition space with a much older pupil
    • A concern that the general set up might be a bit too much like Habbo Hotel http://www.habbo.co.uk/¬†(I think this is the link – it’s blocked here at work!)

    I don’t share their concerns. My reasons for this are wide-ranging and they all relate to my own experience of having given children their own online spaces. I’ll try to explain them here:

    • Giving children an online space taught me that there has to be a certain degree of mutual trust involved. What is important is that a balance is struck between keeping¬†pupils safe, but still allowing them enough leeway to experience the positive aspects of having an online voice.
    • Did I think that the children could abuse the privilege? Yes! Did I think that the children would abuse the privilege? No! I was confident that they saw what we were doing as ‘under the umberella’ of education. Even although they had the freedom to write as they wished, they treated the spaces differently from, say,¬†¬†a bebo site. This¬†is¬†demonstrated¬†by Anna’s post last year (note the comments, too, on this post –¬† from people Anna has never met¬†….. well, apart from the one from her mum!¬†¬†I was also delighted when I discovered this post from¬†Maryam just recently – she’s now¬†in High School and, like the rest of the class, was not¬†able to blog for almost a year because of a passwords problem at the edublogs site. Her blog post focusses on her life in High School
    • My own¬†evidence shows that the advantages to teaching and learning of allowing children to have a online voice far outweighs any percieved problems – that may or may not actually arise

    Others attending the event, though, certainly didn’t have any misgivings about the project. I’ve just visited the Consolarium National Glow Group, and there are only plenty of positive comments and I’ve included snippets here:

    ¬†I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen today

    This is just the kind of tonic I need to show folk (especially teenagers) some of the more up to date things that can be done through GLOW.

    Really impressed with the concept and can see the benefits to learners. I would like it to be expanded in the future to include other strands of the curriculum.

    What a great way to get children interested in art and especially getting them to be critical and comment on others’ work

    Final Thoughts:

    I think that CANVAS has loads of potential! It doesn’t have to be a lot of work for one individual, either. My colleague and I discussed the possibility of schools being given a timetabled slot when they can have the opportunity to showcase their children’s art work in this way. More and more schools are having exhibitions like the one at the school I visited for this first trial and¬†also now have digital cameras capable of recording short video clips. What’s really futuristic, is that there is the possible for every Local Authority to eventually have their own island …… I’d better publish this post now before I get too carried away ūüôā

    Twitter

    Yesterday evening, I was ‘googleying’ ¬†how to open a flv file I’d converted using media converter. I knew I could open it in Smartnotebook, but wondered if it would be possible to open it straight from the desktop icon.

    On a whim, I posed the same question on Twitter – and almost immediately the sound of replies began ‘tweetering’ from my desktop.

     twitter

    ¬†In around 10¬† minutes or so, I had learned much more than I would have in hours of Google searching, and managed to – not only open the file icon from the desktop – but vastly increase my understanding of Flash/flv/swf/various available free downloadable players … etc, etc.

    I felt really chuffed when¬†I went into work this morning and I couldn’t wait to tell my (much more knowledgeable!) colleague what I’d learned. When he heard the subject matter, he (very helpfully and articulately) began to explain all the terminology…….¬†but within minutes, I was lost.

    And that’s when the penny dropped¬† ……….¬†Twitter is better than Face to Face!

    I‘ll try to explain why¬†I think that is ūüôā

    Twitter Thoughts

    • The 140 character limit meant that responses arrived in small manageable chunks
    • Explanations didn’t have the chance to overtake my level of understanding
    • I was able to ‘digest’ the short pieces of information coming my way
    • I could only respond to that new learning using the same number of characters
    • I really had to think about my short responses because I wanted to make my understanding¬†of the points clear to my ‘mentors’¬†¬†…. ¬† David N¬†¬†¬†¬† planted the ‘mentor’ seed in my thinking ūüôā

    Face to Face Thoughts

    • It’s very easy to make assumptions about others’ understanding of the topic
    • One wrong assumption about understanding of just a tiny detail of what you’re saying – and you could lose them
    • It’s very¬†easy to misread thoughts and understanding via facial expressions – ¬†because maybe¬†they’ve learned to cover this up ūüôā

    When I think about it, my twitter learning experience was very similar to the formative assessment practice that lots of teachers strive to achieve.

    Maybe there’s a place for Twitter it in the classroom ???

    Pupil Voice

    ¬†Last week, I posted my reflections about the Participation and Learning Seminar¬†in Edinburgh, and on Thursday of this week we hosted our 2nd Local Authority discussion group¬†¬†event. This was the ‘Meet the pupils’ evening.

     participation_and_learning_invitation2

    These¬† local events have been organised by the six representatives who attend the National events. We felt that it was important to ‘spread the word’ to others in the Authority who didn’t have the opportunity to attend the seminars arranged by LTS.

    We also want to hear¬†what strategies other¬†teachers in Falkirk schools are using to give children their own ‘voice’.

    It was a great CPD event for all who attended (and we were pleasantly surprised by the number of teachers who took the time to come along). The children from the various schools spoke confidently to the adult audience about how their voices are heard. During the informal ‘question and answer’ presentations, we heard about innovative ways to¬†use pupil councils and learning logs. We also heard children from¬†one primary school who¬†were encouraged to leave sticky notes¬†about important decisions on a special board¬†in the entrance area of the school.¬†¬†

    The two pictures below show the P5 children from Carronshore  and their teacher, Miss Law.

    pupil-voice-2 

     

    pupil-voice-1

    ¬†These children talked about the online ‘voice’ spaces they have been given. ¬†It’s a step beyond just being part of their class blog.¬†As I¬†listened to them talk, I wondered if they were getting the same ‘buzz’ from talking to teachers as some¬†pupils from my own class did last year

    I was their taxi driver home – and they made it clear to me that they had thoroughly enjoyed the experience as well. Even although they are two years younger than the primary 7 children I taught, I got the impression that none of them would forget the evening that they got the chance to teach the teachers.

    Almost a year on and thoughts of that case study are still never very far away:-)

     

     

    A Weekend of CPD

    FRIDAY

    On Friday I attended the Participation and Learning Seminar in Edinburgh.

    Michael Fielding, Professor of Education at the Institute of Education in London and Alison Peacock, headteacher of the Wroxham School, Hertfordshire, lead the seminar on participation and pupil voice. 

    participation_and_learning_blogThe seminar was planned as part of the work of the Participation and Learning Network being facilitated by Learning and Teaching Scotland.

    I really enjoyed the whole day, and was inspired enormously by both speakers. I’ve decided to write down some short bullet point reflections here.

    From Michael Fielding:

    • How do we ensure that giving pupils a voice is not an elite process? Is it becoming a ‘tick box’ activity where we¬†select only the good communicators to be chosen to represent the others on, for example,¬†a Pupil Council? How do we ensure that all pupils are heard?
    • Is the best way forward to have Management model good practice, or should they look for good practice in classroom teachers and provide the opportunity for these teachers¬†to share their ways with others – not a ‘top-down’ approach, but a distributed leadership model? This would presumably help to give teachers ownership, and¬†not feel that¬†it’s just another new¬†innitiative imposed from above.
    • Is one way to get out of the ‘ticking boxes’ culture, to keep asking the questions, “Why are we doing this anyway? What are the values we are trying to establish?”
    • How do we create communal spaces where the pupil / teacher gap merges?¬† …… “A place where adults and young people can have an open dialogue”

    Michael is also a big fan of Edward Braithwaite’s “To Sir With Love”¬† I’m very familiar with the film, of course (saw it when it first did the rounds in cinemas!), but I never knew that it was a book. I’ve just ordered it on Amazon :-). Accoring to Michael, the best scene from the book wasn’t included in the film version.

    From Alison Peacock – a sharing if practical ideas tried out in her own school by creating:

    • an atmosphere of inclusion and trust
    • creative learning through experience
    • exciting and irrisistable learning opportunities
    • risk taking situations because – if leaders take risks …. ¬†then teachers will take risks ……. then pupils will take risks

    Practical examples:

    • create opportunities for ‘Learning Assemblies’ where pupils take the lead
    • introduce ‘Learning Review Days’ where pupils talk about their learning and teachers then put something in place to move that learning forward. Teachers are accountable at these meetings because they have to then ask the pupils if what was put in place worked. Pupils are accountable, because they have to explain what did/didn’t work. Parents are included in these meetings.
    • provide opportunities for outdoor learning. Some children find it difficult in a classroom situation, but come in to their own in a more informal outdoor environment – learning can still take place sitting on a log.
    • create learning networks for teachers in catchment areas. Open ended discussions take place after a question is posed. An option might be to then use the ‘together voices’ to send ideas for change off to those in charge.
    • provide opportunities for children to find out who they are through Emotional Photography experiences. The children are encouraged to use props, etc. in photographs of themselves to show how they feel. This way they learn that it’s Ok to be happy/sad, etc. The photographs are framed (Cardboard?) and they then write on the frame.
    • allow children to teach lessons. Videos are made of these (we saw a pupil teach the 6x table – there were rhymes, raps, etc!)

    I think Alison’s main message was that there are ‘other ways’ and that learning (and teaching!) doesn’t have to be boring. She explained that we need to recognise the emotional dimensions of learning and always look for new ways forward, but¬†that organised structures¬†need to be in place¬†so that a sense of freedom can be realised.

    SATURDAY

    On Saturday, along with about 200 others, I attended the launch of  The Association of Chartered Teachers in the Scottish Parliament building.

    ssc_2773

    I felt very proud to be part of the Association. The speeches were uplifting (as was the music!) and I’ll ‘bullet point’ just a few of the messages I heard on the day:

    • It has to be a group decision as to what our role now is – it’s important not to sit passively and be told the way forward
    • We are now in a unique position to take things forward
    • Achieving Chartered Teacher Standard is not about ‘essay writing’¬† – it’s about the Art of Teaching which is at the Heart of Learning.
    • It’s important that the Standard for Chartered Teacher is far removed from the Standard for Leadership
    • We now have an opportunity to create local and national Chartered Teacher Networks to make sure that we have a say as to where the Association goes.

    Thanks to David and Dorothy and all the others who helped organise the great launch ūüôā

    Chartered Teacher Thoughts

    This week, I went along with two other chartered teachers to speak to a represenative from HMIE. It was an informal discussion about our views on the CT initiative, generally. We focussed on a number of areas and – as usual – I’ve been having thoughts about the issues raised ever since!

    The picture from my graduation ceremony below appeared in the TESS newspaper – so I presume it’s OK to post it on here ūüôā

    chartered-teacher

    I completed all 12 modules with the (now named) University of the West of Scotland. All the modules took place online and, apart from Evelyn W –¬†a colleague from school,¬†I had never met any of the people I graduated with face to face.¬†It wasn’t until everyone was seated that we began introducing ourselves and put a face to the names we had collaborated with over the last 5 years or so. ¬†

    I suppose that chartered teachers who attend courses in nearby universities can also feel quite isolated if there are no other school colleagues to bounce ideas off in their own establishments.

    One of the points discussed on Thursday, was the fact that it’s possible to have a number of CT’s working in the same school – and for everyone to be unaware of each others’ existence. ¬†Indeed, on my route to becoming a CT, I met at least 5 people from other schools who told me in confidence that they had enrolled in the program and didn’t feel in the position to tell colleagues or Senior Management that this was the case.

    One of the recommendations in the Report of the Chartered Teacher Review Group is that any teacher who embarks on the scheme should inform their Headteacher of this. Everyone in my school was aware that I was enrolled in the program. I would have found it very difficult to have completed most of the modules otherwise. So much action research was involved and it was necessary for me to gain the approval of the SMT to make the (sometimes) quite radical changes to the way I delivered the curriculum.

    At the meeting, we also discussed whether or not enrolling on the Chartered Teacher program should require prior recommendation from a headteacher (like the SQH scheme?). This seems strange to me. I didn’t sign up for the course because I thought I was some kind of ‘super teacher’ better than my colleagues. I signed up because, after having completed the 4 year B.Ed course 10 years earlier, I felt ready for a ‘fresh injection’ of professional study. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly … but certainly didn’t think that¬†I needed permission from the HT to enroll. It was my time, my effort, my money ūüėČ I gained an enormous amount from the program … what if I’d needed an invitation, and that invite never¬†arrived?

    Invitations have been sent out for the 3rd ‘getting together’ of chartered teachers in this authority. The invite is to those who are ‘on route’ as well as those who have achieved the full CT standard. The first meeting was very well attended, although very few turned up to the second one (including me – I was ‘up to my eyes’ in the final dissertation write up). The timings of the meetings are something that will be put to the group at the 3rd meeting.

    I’ve also received my ticket for the Launch of the Associated of Chartered Teachers Scotland next weekend -looking forward to it!
    acts_reception_ticket2

    It will be great to meet up with some¬†other CT’s there and to listen to their views on some of the issues currently being discussed.

    A Post For Jaye

    These two examples of evaluation forms puzzled me. They were filled out after one of my CPD courses.

    Example No. 1

    satisfy-1

    Example No. 2

    satisfy-2

    At first I was ‘in the huff’ at the comments left by the person who filled out the example no. 1 evaluation. This person was just ‘fairly satisfied’ with my efforts to persuade her that what I was saying was relevant to her needs, and all the effort I had put in to the preparation of the course was just ¬†‘fairly satisfactory’.

    In contrast, I loved the comments left in evaluation no. 2! 

    This person had obviously appreciated all the work I had done – and had left the session with lots of ideas ready to be put in to practice.

    It’s interesting, however,¬†that the person who filled out the no. 1 evaluation sheet¬†is the one who has been emailing me with questions about how she can take things further in her own situation. She appears to¬†reflect on responses¬†.. and then asks more questions.

    So who actually did get more out of the course? And what should I (and others who I need to pass these evaluation sheets on to) take from the ticked boxes?

    Was ‘evaluation no.2’ person just being polite? …… And was ‘evaluation no. 1’ person listening – but thirsty for more? Should I re-design the course content of my CPD presentations as a result of evaluation sheets… or should I re-evaluate the way I look at these feedback forms?

    I’m not sure – but in writing this post I’ve been forced in to thinking about all this.

    ¬†I blame Jaye and her twitter comment for making my head hurt thinking about it all ūüôā

    Meanwhile ……¬†below is¬†a recent presentation I prepared on Powerpoint …. and here’s a link to the same presentation using prezi http://prezi.com/12821/¬†¬†¬†

    I need to think about writing another blog¬†to reflect on this, too?¬† – don’t tell Jaye – she’ll have my head hurting again¬†ūüėČ

    MFLs and IWBs

    I’d been dreading today for a while! 24 Primary School teachers were coming along to hear me give them advice on how to make the most of their SMARTboards in the classroom when teaching foreign languages to upper primary stage pupils. The reason for my ‘dread’ was twofold:

    1. I’ve never had the luxury of an interactive whiteboard in my own classroom practice
    2. I’ve never taught a foreign language – and my own ability to use another language is very limited

    Maybe it was because of these reasons that I¬†felt duty bound to¬†come up with resources that I thought might be very useful¬†to the teachers attending the course. By the time tonight came around, I was actually quite hopeful! I’d found a¬†number of resources that could be used in a variety of curricular areas –¬†and most of those that were specific to mfl teaching¬†were flexible enough to be used in teaching any of the 3¬†languages taught in our Primary schools here.

    Here’s the ppt notes they took away with them:

    View more presentations from carronshore. (tags: iwb languages)

    When teachers come to courses, they are asked to fill in quite detailed¬†evaluation forms¬† – I’m not sure I agree with this idea, but I’ve yet to have a very negative response ūüôā

    Happily, tonight everyone was ‘very satisfied’ with the course … maybe they were just a friendly ‘easy to please’ bunch? I also shared my ‘working wikispace’ with them, so that they could easily access the long url addresses to some of the links!

    Unfortunately a direct message on my twitter account from Joe Dale arrived too late to be included in the course. You can hear the podcast (hot off the press today!) below. I’m sure I’ll be repeating the course, so I’ll be able to include it then.

    Subscribe Free
    Add to my Page

    Finally!! ….I hope that the ppt presentation used¬†for my handout notes will be a useful reference for the attendees, but I’d really like to learn better ways of presenting courses. I enjoyed reading Ollie Bray’s post today on that subject and the video he included was great. More to perfect ūüôā

    How to Create a Great PowerPoint – Take 2.0 from Alvin Trusty on Vimeo.

    ….. and¬†now there’s http://prezi.com/

    I think I’m going to be busy ūüôā

    Pupil Participation – 2

    In my last post, I wrote about how a few of us in this Authority planned to meet with some teachers to share ideas of how we‚Äôve given children ‚Äėa voice‚Äô.¬† The idea to hold the meeting grew from our involvement in a Pupil Participation event by LTS in Stirling Management Centre

    ¬†The evening wasn’t the success we’d hoped for as far as attendance goes – due to a variety of circumstances (the snowy weather didn’t help!)

    It was, however, a great success as far as CPD goes. Although numbers totalled less than 20 (or maybe because numbers totalled less than 20?), everyone left knowing that they had been part of a valuable self-evaluation event. It was great to listen to each others’ stories as we explained how we’d built in effective strategies to ensure that pupils’ voices were heard. Cassie’s reflections can be read here :

    http://misslaw.edublogs.org/2009/02/10/participation-and-learning/

    Prior to the CPD event, I tuned in to¬†Sunday night’s edtechroundup meeting¬†because pupil voice was on the agenda. I joined the conversation just as that topic was coming to an end. I did, however manage to hear Krysia describe how a teacher was experimenting with twitter in the classroom. The pupils were using it to discuss what they were learning as the teacher spoke ….. so if one of them didn’t understand, they were able to use twitter to ask peers to clarify. I think this is what Krysia was describing – but might have picked it up wrongly ūüôā

    Anyway …. ¬†when I was making up a ppt handout for staff in a local school on 21st Century learning tools, I decided to turn to twitter ‘friends’ for advice.

    sheep

    There was so much to focus on that I felt that I had to narrow down the options lest I bamboozled the audience ūüôā

    Thanks to Rich,¬†Turrean (sorry – no link) and David for replying to my¬†‘twitter’¬† plea for help!¬† Based on their recommendations, here’s what I came up with. And a big thanks to Tom who’s already collating ideas from teachers about the use of twitter in the classroom!!

    It went down a treat – and I plan to make a ‘follow-up’ ppt soon. Why not leave a comment describing your own uses of your favourite tool?

    View more presentations from carronshore.

    Pupil Participation

    ¬†This week I’ve received a number of emails from teachers asking for advice about how¬†to help the ¬†children feel more involved in a class blog that has been set up.

    Windsor Park is a school in our Local Authority. It’s a school for deaf children. I was really impressed by the enthusiasm shown by the staff there. After just a recent short introduction of how they might use a class blog with the children, they’re already ‘up and running’!

    Check out their blogs … and leave them a comment if you have the time (I know they’ll appreciate the sense of audience that a simple comment can bring!)

    There are only two classes in the school. You can find them here:

    Room 1

    … and here:

     Room 2

    The two blogs are ad-free –¬†a big ¬†thankyou to¬†¬†Sinclair¬†¬†who offered to rescue any¬†¬†Edublogs¬†blogs here in danger of being exposed to inappropriate advertising¬†¬†ūüôā¬†

    Other teachers who’ve been in touch have been Mrs W. We spent some time setting up wikispaces for the children in her class. There are links to them on one of her blog pages here :

    Carronshore 7wn

    … But what about giving children their own blog space? Cassie ¬†has decided to go down this road slowly, by inviting the children to earn their online space. Have a look :

    Carronshore 5lw

    My own experience of giving children a voice by giving them an online space was the topic of my M.Ed dissertation. There’s a link to it in my old Edublogs blog :

    http://mvass.edublogs.org/2008/08/07/some-chartered-teacher-thoughts/

    At the time of writing the dissertation, I¬†blogged about¬†some thoughts I had about what I felt was¬†a recipe for success for giving children a ‘safe’ online voice. I wrote:

    “It‚Äôs very important to me that our community is a safe one. ‚Ķ ¬†but I also want the children to have the freedom to¬†have their own space and not feel that there‚Äôs a ‚ÄėBig Brother‚Äô culture present.

    So here’s what I’ve done to try to create that balance:

    • First I created a¬†Class Blog¬†so that I could give the pupils an audience for their work
    • Very soon after creating the class blog, I realised that it was important to allow access to the children‚Äôs own work so I created a¬†wikispace for the class to post their writing
    • This didn‚Äôt work well, because if we all logged on and edited the space at the same time, problems occured (a ‚Äôsomeone else is editing this space‚Äô message)
    • I wanted the children to have their own blogs, but still have control over how they were used.¬†I¬†discovered that¬†East Lothian¬†could help me set up individual blogs . These children have now moved on to High School.
    • I‚Äôve now managed to set up our own individual blogs without the help of East Lothian.¬†‚Ķ‚Ķ ¬†I discovered the ‚ÄėGmail+‚Äô trick. For example, If you have a ‚Äėyourname@Gmail‚Äô account, it‚Äôs possible to create lots of new blogs using that same e-mail address.¬†You can do this by¬†creating new blogs¬†with a ‚Äėyourname+student1@gmail‚Äô¬†, ‚Äėyourname+student2@gmail‚Äô etc.
    • One¬†advantage is that, although the pupils have¬†admin rights,¬†the teacher¬†can also¬†login to¬†the¬†blogs at any time.
    • Another advantage is that any comments appear in the teacher‚Äôs Gmail account – even although the¬†children can moderate them, the teacher has a record of what has appeared
    • It‚Äôs quite easy to keep track of what is being posted on the¬†children‚Äôs blogs by using ‚Äėgoogle reader‚Äô, or something similar
    • I‚Äôve since discovered that Wikispaces will set up separate username and passwords for students if you email them the information required.

    Of course giving children their own online space with Edublogs is no longer an option¬†due to¬†recent¬†changes in policy¬†ūüôĀ

    http://edublogs.org/forums/topic.php?id=7445

    A few of us in this Authority have planned to meet with some teachers tomorrow evening to help to share ideas of how we’ve given children ‘a voice’. The idea to hold the meeting grew from our involvement in a Pupil Participation event by LTS in Stirling Management Centre.

    I was also inspired to write this post by the latest edtechroundup agenda because my own input to the pupil participation event will focus on my experience of how technology can help to give pupils …. and parents…. a voice.

    If I manage to ‘pop in’ to the flashmeeting and learn from others …. I’ll be sure to blog about it here ūüôā

    A Welcome Post!

    I’ve finally come up with some ‘how to’¬†advice on self-hosting!

    These first three tutorials are¬†my story of how I¬†was able to make the quantum leap from edublogs to independence!¬†…… They will¬†probably make anyone ‘in the know’ cringe ūüôā

    I suppose the message is – if I can do it, then anyone can!

    Thanks¬†to John and¬†David for their advice …. and a great big thank you to Sinclair for his patience in answering all my twitter and email calls for help ūüôā

    Hopefully, I’ll be able to add to tese tutorials as I learn to become more self-sufficient.

    View more presentations from carronshore. (tags: blogs)
    View more presentations from carronshore. (tags: blogs)

    My First Post In My (soon to be) New Home!

    I feel like I’m living in two houses at the moment – probably the same feeling as¬†if you’ve bought a new house, but still haven’t yet cleared out the old one, so can’t properly move in yet?

    Anyway, this isn’t a proper ‘Welcome to my New Home’ post.

    It’s more like a ‘This is Going to be my New Home Soon’ post.

    I made a Powerpoint Presentation today after an email from a class teacher here who set up an edublogs blog after attending one of our¬†ICT co-ordinators’ meeting a couple of months ago. She emailed me today to ask if¬†I had any ideas about how she could involve the children more.

    I think she’s doing a great job in such a short time (no sign of ads yet, either!) and I’ve been brainstorming ideas in reply to her request. I thought I’d put them on here – just to test things out ūüôā

     

    Enough is Enough!

     This is one of our class blogs where ads have been appearing recently.

    The class teacher contacted me for advice¬†and I suggested that¬†the school¬†could sign up to be an edublogs supporter and then there would be no more ads appearing on their site. I also pointed out that if any other teachers were keen to set up a class blog, then their blogs could be included in the school’s ‘ad free’ package.

    The school is happy to do that and the problem will be resolved soon.

    Sometimes these ads are harmeless enough, but when I clicked on their blog earlier this evening, this is what I saw (these children are 6 years old!).

     

     

    I focussed on the add links on the left hand side menu. When I clicked on the last link, it took me to this page:

     

     

     

    Hence the post title …. enough is enough. My instincts tell me that it just isn’t right and that this sort of thing shouldn’t be happening on an ‘edu’ blog.

    I wonder what others think?

    Blogging Turmoil

    Over the past two weeks, I’ve been thinking about the ‘ups and downs’ of blogging. I should probably have¬†put the Downs and Ups in the title section of this post, as the period in question¬†began with the Downs!

    The DOWNS

    This was due to some frustrations with edublogs. Things were extremely slow for a while, and this was very frustrating when trying to post about Kim and Gail’s visit. I also worried about all the teachers I’ve been helping recently to set up class blogs. I imagined their frustration at not being able to access edublogs so soon after being ‘converted’!

    To top it all, some teachers who had set up class blogs, have begun noticing adverts appearing on their posts. One Headteacher also telephoned to say that a parent had complained about an advert on the Primary 2 class blog that he thought was particularly inappropriate for young children.

    The only way to stop the ads is to become an edublogs supporter. This costs around ¬£30 a year. This also allows you to disable ads on up to 30 other blogs (a class set?), although the extra blogs wouldn’t have any of the other supporter benefits – such as extra storage space or access to plugins.

    Initially, this seemed like a good solution to the ads problem on pupils individual blogs. After some deliberation, however, I recalled the situation that arose last session when my class used learnerblogs, and the problems that arose then when ads began appearing on their posts.

     At the time, I wrote:

    Last weekend, I made the decision to move the class individual blogs away from learnerblogs over to edublogs. Recently there was an announcement in the edublogs support blog to say there would no longer be an option to sign up for learnerblogs accounts, but that any existing ones would remain active.

    It may have been a coincidence, but around about the same time, adverts began appearing all over the pupils’ learnerblogs and they started receiving some spam comments. Last Friday, however, a comment appeared on the main class blog from a pupil to say that a very inappropriate comment was awaiting moderation. Normally I would have moderated the comment first, but it must have appeared on her blog as she was logged in to update it.

    The conversations on the main class blog as she tried to seek advice can be viewed here.

    I made a decision to close down¬†the pupil‚Äôs blog (at least I¬†copied and pasted all her posts before taking the ‚Äėone way trip‚Äô!). I also erased another pupil‚Äôs blog where there had been a previous spam comment noticed. It was a rushed decision and the next morning I decided to create new edublogs for the pupils.

    Last Monday, we spent our computer time exporting all information from the learnerblogs accounts and importing it into the new edublogs accounts. It was a simple process and the children managed to do this themselves. They left a short goodbye message on their old blogs and provided a link to their new blogs.

    Our next job is to activate the ‚ÄėAkismet‚Äô spam key required to deal with spam comments. I‚Äôve had this installed in the class blog and have had over 1000 comments deleted as spam‚Ķ‚Ķ. and I still need to¬†replace links on the class blog.

    I deliberately used bold for the last paragraph, because I believe now that the ‘Akismet’ spam key is necessary for pupil blogs so that there is a safeguard in place to help prevent the experience described here from re-occurring. Unfortunately, because the pupil blogs have no access to the Akismet spam plugin, that precautionary measure cannot be taken.

    I’m now of the opinion that recommending edublogs for pupils is not feasible and I need to try to quickly find an alternative solution. Every day more and more teachers are asking for advice – and I’m suddenly confused about what that advice should be ūüôĀ

     

    The UPS

    I came across this 5th graders blog recently (just surfing!) and on it I found this wonderful summary of what blogging meant to Eddie at the time.

     

     

     The image really cheered me up and I decided to keep on looking for safer ways for pupils to blog.

    I was also delighted that Maryam ,who has now moved on to High School, is still reading the¬†Carronshore Blog and took the time to comment on Mrs P’s recent visit to Carronshore Primary School. (last years P7 can’t access their own blogs any more because of an issue with having to renew edublogs passwords a while ago …. but that’s another story!).

    Maryam wrote:

    Hello Primary 5!
    It’s me Maryam! Sorry i haven’t wrote in ages, just been sooooo busy!
    I have been looking at all the latest updates of your blog and i was really shocked at this video! When i was in primary 7 (last year) we talked to all stars and Mrs P and Mrs D from the AllStars! Lucky you guys for meeting them!
    Anyway, I know it is a little bit late but..
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!
    HeHe, i would have said it earlier but i have been quite busy. School is really good! Except my English teacher has left with was really sad, but now we have 3 English teachers which is very confusing.. very.
    I have been getting quite alot of tests at school on sciences and i am really enjoying all of them and i cannot wait till i go on holiday to Pakistan on the 4th of February, i haven’t seen my mum’s side of the family for 4 years! I can’t wait!
    I will write back soon.
    Maryam

    The final ‘UP‘ happened last night on twitter¬†when Andrew and Sinclair offered some great advice …. and I’ll be taking up the offer of further help from both Sinclair and David who say they’re willing to answer more questions I have about finding solutions to our Blogging problems. I’m very grateful that they’re willing to share their experise …. I need all the help¬†I can get ūüôā

    Kim and Gail's Visit to Falkirk

    Kim and Gail captivated the children in Easter Carmuirs and Carronshore on Friday. They were bombarded with questions about life in Australia …. and what impressions they had about life in Scotland!

    In the morning, they visited Carronshore and were treated to some Fischy Music

    Back in class, the children interviewed Kim and Gail. I learned loads by listening to the responses to their great questions!

    Before they left, Kim presented the class with two new pets! The platypus and koala bear will be well looked after, I’m sure!¬†

     

     

    After lunch, we headed off to Easter Carmuirs so that Kim and Gail could meet Mr O and some of the children they’ve met ‘virtually’ over the past 2 years. Again, the Primary 7 pupils had some great questions for them. Two guides then showed us round the school. We returned to the class and chatted with the children while they used technology during their Friday afternoon Golden Time slot. Kim and Richard also had a further¬†opportunity to chat about possible future virtual ventures together.

    Kim and Gail both commented on how impressed they were with these Primary 7 pupils.

     

     

    Part 2 – Visiting E. Lothian

     

    IMG_0200

    Yesterday Kim, Gail and I drove out to East Lothian to visit Musselburgh Grammar School and Wallyford Primary School. The day was organised by Ollie Bray, a Depute Head at MGS.

    Our first port of call was Wallyford. We visited a primary 7 class where the children were engrossed in their Nintendo DS as they worked to improve their brain age! I was really impressed by how absorbed the children were in the activity. There was a great question and answer session afterwards. I learned that:

    • the children love it, but half an hour of such intense concentration is enough for them
    • they sometimes forget that they are even in class because it’s the type of activity they would normally take part in outside of school (the atmosphere was very informal – some children sat in small groups on large cushions on the floor)
    • they often used this as a ‘settling down’ activity right after lunch
    • the¬†20 to 30 minute activity was counted as part of their mental maths for that day
    • some found it frustrating that the voice recognition didn’t recognise their accent (the Australian visitors agreed – the word ‘yellow’ caused them the most problems!)
    • Some of them liked the fact they could compete against their classmates – others preferred to work hard to improve their own scores
    • age 20 is the optimal brain age (I tried it later and scored 80 …. I’m blaming the voice recognition tool!!)

    IMG_0204

     

     

    The children packed up the equipment and we were escorted downstairs to the primary 3 class. These children played the ‘Drawn to Life’ game. The purpose is to create and customise heroes, weapons, vehicles, animals and more. The children then play with their creations and watch them come to life. Once again, these children were totally absorbed in the activity. Ms Betteridge had made worksheets to go along with the game and the children then used the experience to help with imaginative writing. The primary 3 pupils confidently used expressions such as :

    • settings
    • characters
    • plot
    • props to help solve problems

    I¬†overheard two pupils discussing the coins they had accumulated. They accurately read big numbers such as 7765, 9981, and even 7001. They were also able to easily put these in order of smallest to biggest – very impressive ūüôā

    Guitarheroiiicoverimage

    Back at MGS we had the pleasure of talking to Jamie and Andrew, to 1st year pupils. They talked to us about The Guitar Hero project that they were involved in to¬†aid the transition from Primary to Secondary school. I’ve read about it before on Ollie’s blog, but it was great to meet two of the children who took part and hear things from their perspective. I scribbled down some notes as we questioned them … again, I’ll use bullet points to give snippets of what they said (so, it’s not a chronological order of events!)

    • In primary 7 they formed small groups. The groups were chosen by the teacher because the pupils found it difficult to choose from a large friendship group
    • the rock bands planned a ‘Round the World Tour’
    • Activities spilled into various curricular areas. For example – In music, they practised ‘beats’. In English, they kept a ‘Rock Diary’. In Art they designed their own instruments and drew rock stars
    • Each of the feeder primary schools had one guitar and the groups took turn about to practise.
    • There were competitions at the weekly Golden Time slots (even the teachers joined in!)
    • Once in High School, everyone had a common issue that they could discuss with children they didn’t know
    • They were grouped again in High School with new people – again chosen by the teachers. Both boys thought that the project meant that people were less likely to be shy
    • New friendships struck up really easily because they all had a shared experince to discuss
    • In Craft Design and Technology class, the new groups designed postcards using graphics in Photoshop. These were then sent back to their P7 teachers (they couldn’t remember receiving a reply back?)
    • Although they felt very at ease socially with their new clasmates, the boys still felt a bit intimidated by the size of the new school

    ¬†I thoroughly enjoyed the day and need to say a big thank you to Ollie (I hope he doesn’t mind that I pinched the pics from his blog – trust me to forget the camera!).

    Thanks also to the staff and pupils who made us all so welcome …. and lunch was great, too ūüôā

    A Two Part Post

    Recently¬†I blogged about my initial meeting with Kim and Gail (check out the responses from Cassie regarding their proposed visit to Carronshore! ) … and the comment response from John Connell was completely unexpected!¬†

    I’m sure that the children from Easter Carmuirs are also looking forward to meeting the ‘virtual people’ face to face ūüėČ

    I’ve now joined Kim and Gail on 2 of their Scotland visits – and my head is still swimming! I’ll need to create¬†a couple of¬†posts to cover all we experienced.

    This is post number 1.

    Last night I returned from Edinburgh after meeting with Kim and Gail. They were meeting with Judy, Tessa, Keiron and Cathrin from Edinburgh who worked on a recent research study into how game making might improve literacy. 

    On the train back home, I reflected on what I had learned from the experience. Thinking about it passed the time on the train (delayed lots because of something happening on the line )

    Here’s what I believe are just some of the things I got out of the short meeting:

    • When I met with the others in Edinburgh this afternoon, it made me acutely aware of how small the world is! When they heard I was from Falkirk, Cathrin immediately responded that she works with Marilyn¬†M and others from Falkirk on improving literacy (Bairns into Books) …. and Tessa¬†and I¬†were amazed to discover that our classes were blogging friends!¬†
    • We discussed loads of educational matters, too, and everyone had so much to contribute.¬†Games based learning was discussed in detail, and Kim and Gail talked about their introduction to the potentials of using Moshi Monsters with classes.
    • ¬†Maybe the main thing from¬†last night’s meeting¬†is that it was¬†a ‘sharing of ideas’ experience. We all gained from each other, and can now pass the information on in our own areas to improve the learning experiences of¬†the children in our care.¬†

    I’m¬†glad I¬†had the opportunity to attend¬†yesterday’s meeting.

    Post Number 2

    Today’s visit to Musselburgh Grammar School¬†and Wallyford Primary was superb and there was so much to take in …..¬†I’m glad I took notes:-)

    ¬†Post 2 will follow very soon … but¬†I’m not sure what else¬†I can add to¬†Ollie’s great description of the day ūüôā

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Children's Online Spaces

    At a social event just before the end of term, I was approached by a young probationary teacher (I’ll call her Ann). She asked for some advice regarding using online spaces with her primary 6 class of pupils. She shares the class with an experienced teacher who had set up a class blog and wiki space. Each of the children has their own page in the wiki.

    Ann is finding it difficult to understand the point in the children having such an online space. At various times throughout the week, the children are expected to add to their space during their timetabled visits to the computer suite. She is aware that some children are beginning to resent this (they seem to be mainly reiterating what they’ve learned in class) and she asked if it would be possible for us to meet up soon after the holiday season to discuss these issues.

    I’m hoping that, by ‚Äėthinking out loud’ via this blog post, I’ll be in a better position to offer advice. ….. Once again I’ve reflected on my CT Case Study. The bullet points below have been¬†extracted from the dissertation in order to help me articulate what I learned from my own experience of using online spaces with children.

     

    • Prior to the commencement of the research period for¬†the dissertation, the children my Primary 7 class were encouraged to use the tools in class time, especially during our timetabled visits to the school computer suite. Occasionally the children were asked to incorporate a homework tasks into their blog or wiki. For example, each child had a recordable mp3 player and when studying World War 2, they were asked to interview an older member of their family (e.g. gran or grandad) in order to find out about life in the past so as to give them a sense of history. These were then shared with all the class members via the interactive whiteboard. Once the study began, however, I refrained from these practices so that the children might establish ownership of the tools. They were encouraged to use them when and how they wanted to.

    • ¬†Each pupil personalised their blogs by choosing their own individual look and theme. All of them successfully created avatars and, in the case of the boys especially, the inclusion of pictures and videos in posts was very apparent. The children quickly established the different uses for the blogs and wikis. The blogs being used for reflections, thoughts, short pieces of writings and uploading pictures, and the wikis for more extended pieces of writing, such as imaginative stories – usually updated over an extended period of time.

      

    • Buckingham (2008) argues that through using the new media, young people are learning primarily by means of discovery, experimentation, and play, rather than by following external instructions and directions.

     

    • It was decided to adopt such an approach during the research stage and pupils were left free to choose the content of their blog posts and wiki writing. Guidance was provided through creating a sense of online audience by submitting comments on the children’s posts regularly. Offline, new interesting posts were shared with the children. The findings show that this had the effect of influencing others to add new blog posts on their own blogs – often on the same subject. The findings in this study show that by laying the foundations, then allowing the children the freedom to write as individuals, led to blog posts such as Maryam’s

     

    • Giving the children the freedom to use their online spaces as they wished allowed a deeper insight to their persona. An online community did develop, but that was on the periphery. The sharing of thoughts, opinions, ideas and personal likes and dislikes began as online blog posts. These were then developed in the offline classroom setting, giving rise to opportunities to increase motivation by modifying the programme of study to one that was more ‚Äėchild led’.¬† Early on in the study, doubts began to creep in about whether or not leaving the children ‚Äėto their own devices’ might result in blog and wiki entries fizzling out. I felt despondent at the lack of written posts by the boys in particular. An entry in my online journal, however, describes the level of enthusiasm they displayed when demonstrating to adults how we use the new media.

     

    • The findings show that the boys in the class were more interested in uploading pictures and videos than in writing blog posts.

     

    • In her investigation of young people’s use of social media, Stern (2007) uncovered an explanation for the motives for including artwork and images in their blog pages. In the literature review, she was noted as arguing that the main audience for their blogs was the authors themselves and that they were self reflecting as they tested out different versions of their current and possible identities. She also maintains, however, that they were continually testing out other audiences too, and that they were hungry for peer approval.

     

    • Typical examples of the children’s responses to being allowed to use their spaces this way are cited here:¬†
    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėYes, because in our own blogs we’re allowed to write about what we want to write, so we’ve got to know each other better.’

      ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėSome people in class don’t talk to me very much, but I can read their blog and find out more about them’

      ¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėI feel that I know my close friends even more now because of what they write on their blog’¬†

    • Other ways in which the blogs and wikis directly influenced teaching and learning came about after the sharing of blog posts in class. For example:
    • ¬†¬†¬† ¬†As the pupils began adding more posts about what jobs they would like to choose, we began to¬† seek out people from the ‚ÄėWorld of Work’ to come in to class and tell us about their job. We interviewed them and posted the videos on the class blog

      ¬†¬†¬†¬† Some of the children shared their love of reading in their blog posts. As a direct result of those posts, a book club was formed. The club was run by the pupils themselves and they shared their favourite books on ‚Äėlibrary loan’ basis and discussed their favourites

           During her placement, Miss L agreed to set up an art club. This arose because a number of the children had written blog posts about their love of drawing

       

    ¬†Writing this post has definately helped me focus on what I’d like to say to ‘Ann’ during our meeting …… and I’m also delighted that my months of hard work collecting information for my research hasn’t resulted in my dissertation lying somewhere collecting dust ūüôā

       

    A Wonderful Afternoon!

    This afternoon I met up with KimP and her HeadTeacher, Gail. We had a lovely afternoon together …. and there are plans to meet up again during their short visit to Scotland.

    More posts pending ūüôā

     

    Meanwhile here’s a flavour of our lunch together today. The champagne was planned ‘virtually’ a while ago when Kim helped me with my M.Ed by agreeing to be my ‘critical friend’. I can’t thank her enough for her effort in keeping me focussed when I really struggled¬†at¬†the ‘last lap’¬†as I¬†out of steam ūüôā

     

     We visited the Falkirk Wheel after lunch.

     

     

     

    CPD and Twitter

    This week I delivered training on Internet Safety and wasn’t sure how to make it interesting! While playing around on Twitter, however, I noticed an entry by Neil Winton linking to this great resource.

    Thanks Neil ūüôā

    I also caught site of Tom Barratt’s link to a slideshare presentation that gave (what I think anyway) a powerful message:

     

    Digital Reputation

    View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: groom dean)

     

    The quote by Will Richardson¬†on slide 16¬†led me to talk about the importance of giving¬†primary school age¬†children their¬†own online space in the form of a blog or wiki so that they can learn how to ‘act and present themselves’ in an¬†safe manner when they ‘branch out’ and create their own personal space on bebo, Facebook etc.¬†Early years teachers can begin by allowing them to post on a class blog.

    ….But what about direct benefits to learning and teaching? Writing this post¬†led me to reflect on a section of the findings of my Chartered Teacher dissertation. I wrote:

    ”¬†Taking part in this case study has given me an opportunity to reflect on my own teaching. Some of the findings from the research were unexpected. I set out to investigate if the strategies I had put in place would lead to the creation of an online learning community. I was not prepared for the effect this would have on the offline environment of the classroom and for the changes to the content and delivery of the curriculum. Giving the children the freedom to use their online spaces as they wished allowed a deeper insight to their persona. An online community did develop, but that was on the periphery. The sharing of thoughts, opinions, ideas and personal likes and dislikes began as online blog posts. These were then developed in the offline classroom setting, giving rise to opportunities to increase motivation by modifying the programme of study to one that was more ‚Äėchild led‚Äô.”

     

     

    GLOW and Twitter 

     

     

     

    This week, I met up with Katie Barrowman, Jaye Richards and Sinclair McKenzie on GLOW messenger because of¬†incidental comments left¬†on Twitter. This impromptu meeting also led to me taking part in my first GLOW video conference session, and I have to admit that it was good fun and Katie was able to talk me through some of the applications available (saved me reading through the instructions!) We even tried out GLOW chat ‚Äď and it worked well, too. On GLOW so far I‚Äôve¬†embedded a voki, uploaded a document and an mp3 file¬†… I‚Äôve even set up my own GLOW group! I’m beginning to¬†see the potential ūüôā
    I wonder what tips I’ll pick up from Twitter this week ūüôā¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

     

     

     

     

     

    A Thank You Post!

    I’ve been given the Key to GLOW

     

    Thanks to Katie¬†for the helpful e-mail attachment …… and to Con¬†for the homework ūüôā

     

    I’ll do my best!

     

    Thanks also to Jaye¬†and Ollie¬†who promised that I could pay a visit to their schools to see the good work they’re doing¬†– can’t back down now that I’ve made the invitation public ūüôā

     

     

    Thank you also to John and to Robert¬†for allowing me to use their good practice in my ‘Active Math’ CPD presentation today …. the teachers who attended¬†were suitably impresssed ūüôā

    John provided ideas for using ComicLife to help P6 stage pupils understand ‘shape properties’¬†and was very impressed by the motivational aspect of giving them a camera and a new resource.

     Robert used Go!Animate and wrote on his blog:

     

    The pupils are enjoying learning how to make animations. Enjoyment is sometimes a bit thin on the ground in maths for some of these students, despite my efforts to jolly things up, so I’m delighted to see them turning up early to the computer lessons, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

    The pupils are experiencing success. Some students who find maths very challenging seem to see maths as being either babyish (their definition of the maths they can do) or impossible.  This project has enabled them to experience success at learning how to create animations, a task they consider to be cool enough to be worth mastering.
    Pupils are learning from each other as they explore the functionality of goanimate. It has been delightful to see the pupils helping each other out as they learn.¬† I‚Äôm hearing things like ‚ÄúPaul [fake name] – how do you add that explosion?‚ÄĚ or¬† ‚Äúthat‚Äôs cool, but the frame is a bit quick – here‚Äôs how you can slow it down a bit.‚Ä̬† These positive interactions have¬† definitely improved the atmosphere back in the maths classroom.
    Pupils are actively considering real life applications of numeracy. I presented the students with a simple challenge once they had developed some basic skills with goanimate:  create an animation that shows how you use maths in real life.  I made it clear that animations without mathematical content would not do.  This led to some interesting discussions, and some great animations.
    ¬†I¬†amended their¬†resources so that they could also be available offline. I’ve uploaded my offline versions to photobucket¬†– apologies if I’ve done them an injustice (sorry about the change of music, Robert, haven’t yet mastered how to capture both video and audio using smartnotebook recorder so had to substitute!).

     

     

     

     

     


    AND!!

    A Week of CPD

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Last week was the busiest ever for CPD. Some sessions went without a hitch, others were more troublesome! In fact, there were so many disasters at the start of the week that, by the time Thursday’s Go!Animate course¬†came around, I was prepared for¬†every eventuality!

    The two pictures above give a flavour of the more successful Go!Animate session.

     The decision to bring along some of the Primary 5 pupils who had been trialling the success of using Go!Animate to improve literacy skills was made after reflecting on the success I experienced when I gave my first CPD course as a class teacher.

    I had been asked to do this to introduce other class teachers to the idea of setting up a class blog. I posted my thoughts about the decision to bring along some of my own pupils to give their perspective on things and¬†I’ve revisited those posts, one of¬†which can be found here.

    At the time, Maryam¬†reflected in her own blog¬†how weird it felt for her to experience a reversion of roles ūüôā

    weemaryams.png

     “Yesterday Me,Anna,Sophie,Darcie,Rebecca and Ainsley had went to this place in Camelon to teach teachers who to use blogs.It was really fun! Though it was a little weird teaching teachers.But anyway it was still fun.

    First we had went to the little café place.We had a scone,some biscuits and tea.The scones rocked!We got to put jam on them or butter.The tea was REALLY hot and my tongue went firey red.Aghhh!

    Then we had went back upstairs and we waited for all the teachers to come.Then when they had all came we started our presantations.Anna and Sophie went first.Then me and Darcie but we had sort of made a muck up of it!Then after we had went around helping the teachers.

    THAT WAS THE WEIRD BIT!

    I‚Äôve never helped a teacher and it was a bit emmbarrasing going up to them and saying, ‚ÄĚDo you need any help?‚ÄĚI had helped a few people but the computers there are a bit slow and they keep canceling things so it was a bit hard.Then after the teachers had went back and we got everything back in Mrs Vass‚Äôs Car.Mrs Brown had took some people and dropped them off at there homes.Mrs Vass took me,Anna,Rebecca and Darcie.It was really funny!

    I can‚Äôt wait till next week if we are going back!‚ÄĚ

    One of the CPD sessions this week was¬†also designed to introduce teachers to Blogging …..¬†but¬†It did not go well! The internet was VERY slow during the session and everyone¬†soon became¬†discouraged. As well as that, I was torn in all directions, trying to help the 15 or so participants. How I regretted not having brought along some extra Primary School age experts to offer some professional advice ūüôā

    Other CPD courses during the week had various little glitches,¬†and by the time it came to delivering the Go!Animate one, I had put¬†plans in place¬†to cover all unforseen events! If the internet was to go down, then I had made arrangements for offline viewing of the benefits of using the freely available resource. My invited guests ‘experts’ provided first hand evidence of how it impacted positively on their ability to use direct speech in their writing ¬†(I can’t find the link they used now – typical!). The group who came along produced this animation.

    I’m also indebted to Cassie for helping me to make sure that the CPD session went smoothly. She offered to¬†introduce her Primary 5 class to Go!Animate and evaluate its effect.

    ¬†If it wasn’t for the fact that I knew that it actually did have a positive impact on children’s motivation to learn, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable ‘selling’ the idea to colleagues ūüôā

    Here’s a flavour of the successful CPD session!

     

    Reflection on CPD Days

    Today and yesterday were our in-service days. For class teachers that usually means two days of some sort of CPD. In my present post, however, it consisted of both attending CPD courses delivered by others ‚Äď and delivering CPD courses to others.

    A CPD course delivered by others – Monday:


    The first course I attended was some CPD about CPD ¬†ūüôā

    It was delivered by Con Morris and Katie Barrowman ‚Äď two people I‚Äôve only known virtually until yesterday. It was a very thought-provoking course, presented in an active and fun way. The chocolate orange was not won by anyone and a member of the Falkirk audience reminded Con that he‚Äôd promised to share it with everyone if no-one managed to get 2 correct answers to his question. (I was second last in the semi-circle, and was very pleased that there was a couple of slices left by the time Katie had made her way around the grateful recipients! )

    We had all been asked to write down two forms of CPD that we knew of …. the ‚Äėusual‚Äô face to face type of twighlight session was not allowed to be one of them. Con spun the ‚Äėrandom generator thing‚Äô (I‚Äôve seen Ewan use it in Teachmeet sessions ‚Äď didn‚Äôt know it was from the classtools site), and if you had written that down then that was counted as you being half way to winning the chocolate orange all to yourself.

    Although lots of people had managed to get one CPD option correct, no-one managed to get two. The whole exercise just brought it home to people the wide variety of activities that come under the umbrella of CPD.

    ……. Now for my embarrassing confession – I didn‚Äôt write down any of the generated answers!! In my defence, however, I took the ‚Äėface-to-face‚Äô type of CPD ban literally and tried to think of non ‚Äėface-to-face‚Äô activities only. What did I write down? ‚ÄėReading educational blogs‚Äô and ‚Äėmore recently, twittering‚Äô.

    When the ‚Äėgenerator thing‚Äô came up with ‚Äėother‚Äô, and Con asked if anyone had written something under that category, I almost admitted to my choice but was beaten to the post by someone at the other side of the room who admitted to writing down ‚Äėgoing to the theatre‚Äô. Con‚Äôs reply was great (can‚Äôt remember his words exactly ‚Äď but in summary it was something like ‚Äėit‚Äôs ok to take time out to refresh‚Äô).

    It was also a great surprise to everyone that Katie (I think she might have been the one who did this?) had taken the time to set us all up with a temporary Glow account and we all got to have a contemplative look at it ‚Äď although I‚Äôm sure that there are more advantages available when you‚Äôre a fully paid up member ūüôā

    A CPD course delivered to others – Tuesday


    Today it was my turn to deliver a course.

    In the morning, I helped some staff in a school become familiar with their new Schools-Online website.
    The afternoon session, however, was the highlight of my day! I was working with some teachers whose job it is to teach French to Primary 6 and 7 stage children. I introduced them to the effect that an audience can have on a class. We visited some schools that are using blogs to motivate children, and we looked at the use of freely available online tools to enrich learning and teaching.

    The feedback forms they filled in made it very apparent that they were staggered by the number (and quality) of these tools. It was obvious that one of the main high spots of their CPD course was the delicious link given to me by Shirley via a recent comment on¬†this blog ‚Äď thank you for sharing, Shirley! You‚Äôve made some teachers in Falkirk very, very happy ūüôā

    More on GoAnimate

    I love the educational potential that GoAnimate offers. It’s not possible (at this time), however, to include animations in edublogs.

    Access at work is also very erratic at the moment (hopefully bandwidth issues will be resolved in the future) and this has¬†been quite disturbing as I’ve signed up to present a course on¬†it – next Thursday. No matter where I host it online, the same problems will present themselves¬†as it’s a ‘hit and miss’ situation.

    But here’s where Smart Notebook comes in handy. I used the¬†‘recorder’ tool to capture the animation I made for Neil’s birthday surprise¬†¬†¬† (I know it’ll look a bit strange to ‘outsiders’ but all the scene backgrounds and the animations had my sons cracking up with laughter – and I had a genuine reason for sitting at the computer for ages getting used to the programme!)

    The animation is now safely stored on my desktop and can be viewed offline (thanks to my colleague, Malcolm, for the tip).

    Once I had recorded it, it was easy (and very quick) to upload it to a host site. I used this opportunity to compare 2 favourite host sites – photobucket and schooltube. The first video below is hosted on photobucket – the second one on schooltube.

    As anyone using an edublogs blog knows, I’ll not be able to preview these videos until I’ve pressed the publish button – here goes ūüôā

    Or ……

    A Lightbulb Moment

    This is just a short post to say what I’ve been up to recently.

    I’ve decided that if this is really going to be a CPD blog, then I need to post more frequently in order to reflect on what I’ve been doing. I really want to keep this blog going Рbut I’m starting to struggle.

    This morning, however, I had one of those ‚Äėlightbulb‚Äô moments when checking my weekly calendar.

    I realised that since starting my secondment, I tend to put my energy in to planning for the week ahead rather than reflecting on the week that’s just passed.

    … So from now on, I‚Äôm going to use this blog to try to truly reflect ‚Äď (and try to learn from my experiences). I‚Äôll include the highlights from each week (don‚Äôt think for one minute that I‚Äôm not working like a dog for the rest of the week ‚Äď ‚Äėcause I am!)

    Last Week’s Highlights:

    ‚ÄĘ Monday ‚Äď I had planned to visit a school to help staff to become familiar with the new Think Quest website. I‚Äôve used Think.com in the past with pupils but after stumbling upon the new web 2.0 tools, this resource lost most of its appeal for me …. and for the pupils in my class. As it‚Äôs part of my remit, however, I felt obliged to ‚Äėsell it‚Äô as best I could. Prior to my visit, it transpired that there was a problem with the school‚Äôs new account with Think Quest, so I thought it best to have something else up my sleeve . I amended the presentation to include the benefits of introducing children to Blogs, wikis and all the new cooltoolsforschools stuff. The staff were blown away by what I had to share, and by the end of the session, everyone of them had set up a new class blog ‚Äď I‚Äôll keep you posted about the eventual outcome of this (will they keep them going?)

    ‚ÄĘ Thursday ‚Äď On Thursday I went back to visit Carronshore Primary School. Class teacher, Cassie, had agreed to work with the children on the GoAnimate program after I told her that I was giving an in-service delivery on its benefits. I love this website and the potential it holds for improving literacy skills. I‚Äôd played about with it prior to visiting Carronshore and I completed this effort on Saturday …. andthis one earlier this evening ?. The children in Cassie‚Äôs class know (like me) that it makes work feel like fun! I helped them make the first scene. They chose friendship groups to work in (2, 3 ‚Äď 4 children at most in each group). Each group was supplied with an A3 piece of paper divided into 6 sections. After some think/discussion time, they illustrated each scene. I then showed them how to bring their scene one to life using the GoAnimate program. They loved it ‚Äď I can‚Äôt wait to see if they manage to complete scenes 2 to 6 the same way ‚Äď I‚Äôll let you know! The plan is that they then create a piece of writing based on their group¬†effort ‚Äď time will tell ūüôā

    More Lightbulb moments to follow ūüôā

    A Very Grand Affair !!

    me_waiting.jpg

     

    Well I did it! I finally graduated with a Master’s Degree ūüôā

     

     

     

    us_proud.jpg

    Evelyn W was there too. We’ve both worked very hard over the last five years and we finally we got there!

    It was ‘touch and go’ a few times for both of us, but we supported each other through the times of self doubt.

    mousemat.jpg

    After the ceremony I met up with my sisters …… they obviously know me well!

    The bottle of Champagne and the ‘sparkly’ mouse and mousemat present just about sums me up ūüôā

    Learning Along The Way!

    This entry is inspired by Kim who commented on my last post :

    ‘But just think how much you will be learning along the way )……….

    (thanks also to Pam for her comment!)

    One of the items on my long list was to:

    ‚ÄĘ Introduce the use of vodcasts (audacity and windows movie-maker) to assist enterprising education

    ¬† I should have felt at ease with this item on my ‚Äėto do‚Äô list because it’s something I’ve done many times with classes.

    Presenting to contemporaries, however, is most definitely not within my comfort zone so I was a bit on edge this week when I stepped up to do my bit – just one slot in the 4 hour CPD session on how the use of ICT can benefit enterprising education.

    I’d brought with me an Mp3 file made by some children last year when we visited the local Bookbinders (by chance I still had it somewhere on my laptop at home). We listened to this and then I then showed the difference that was made when we added pictures to the voices.

    I demonstrated how to export a recording as an Mp3 file using Audacity, and then import it to Window‚Äôs movie maker along with some pictures. The ‚Äėaudience‚Äô then created their own mini vodcast.

    Despite my lack of presentation skills, I was delighted that the feedback was extremely positive. Everyone (almost instantaneously) saw the potential for using this as a tool to improve story writing.

    It was definitely the highlight of my week!!

    Earlier in the day, I prepared a quick reminder guide for them (I know what they produced isn‚Äôt really a vodcast …. but the potential‚Äôs there?)

    … And next week‚Äôs highlights?:
    ‚ÄĘ Wednesday‚Äôs Leonard Cohen concert
    ‚ÄĘ Friday‚Äôs graduation ceremony¬†:-)!!

    Notes On The Journey

    These are notes to myself about my¬†‘booked’ CPD courses (until March 2009) requiring preparation time …. time management is now at the top of my¬†CPD agenda : )

    ‚ÄĘ Supporting Nursery Staff in using the new Schools- Online websites
    ‚ÄĘ Introducing the use of vodcasts (audacity and windows movie-maker) to assist enterprising education
    ‚ÄĘ Supporting SMT in schools to introduce innovative ICT activities to engage pupils and parents (e.g. using flickr tools to share themed photographs of school life)
    ‚ÄĘ Supporting teaching staff to become familiar with the new ‚ÄėThink Quest‚Äô facilities ‚Äď including how to set up and maintain pupils‚Äô sites
    ‚ÄĘ Supporting ancillary staff to use facilities in the new Schools-Online websites such as uploading documents (newsletters, etc.) and to access and use the calendar facility
    ‚ÄĘ Familiarising myself with the benefits of the Go-Animate programme, supporting Cassie in its use, preparing suitable CPD course material to enable staff to use the program creatively to improve literacy at all levels
    ‚ÄĘ Supporting schools in CPD events to improve maths teaching (specifically collaborative problem solving activities ) by making it more active and cross curricular (real life maths). Adapting my own ideas used in class previously and developing a CPD activity for Primary school teachers at all stages.
    ‚ÄĘ Developing up-to date CPD materials to help teaching staff make children aware of steps to take to protect themselves when using on-line environments
    ‚ÄĘ Spending time familiarising myself with Front Page in order to prepare for scheduled CPD activity for staff whose schools are using this type of website
    ‚ÄĘ Preparing CPD material to introduce staff to the concept of ‚ÄėOnline Storytelling‚Äô by using activities such as windows movie maker and ‚Äėphotobucket‚Äô to improve literacy
    ‚ÄĘ Familiarising myself with already prepared CPD material that I‚Äôm asked to deliver as a ‚Äėstand in‚Äô for other team members who are unavailable
    ‚ÄĘ Preparing material to deliver a requested ‚Äėsharing of good practice‚Äô CPD event
    ‚ÄĘ Familiarising myself with Smartboard use to improve the teaching of Modern Languages (looking at existing materials and up-date them for 2008/2009 delivery)
    ‚ÄĘ Preparing resources for planned Cpd courses to introduce teachers to freely available online tools (animoto, slideshare, myplick, voki,etc) and to demonstrate how they can be used creatively to improve learning in literacy and in a variety of other curricular areas.

    Planned self-study activities consist of:

    ‚ÄĘ Liaising with teaching staff who are already using methods I‚Äôm not familiar with ‚Äď podcasting hosts, the use of hand held games¬†in education, voting tools
    ‚ÄĘ Continuing to work on improving delivery and presentation skills of previously delivered courses (e.g. blogging courses, podcasting courses)
    ‚ÄĘ Attending (when possible) Smartboard courses offered by other team members
    ‚ÄĘ Attending In-service Day course on CPD Find by LTS (to help with vision for VTC!)
    ‚ÄĘ Attending In-service Day course on Comic Life
    ‚ÄĘ Attending the BETT conference and selected presentations ‚Äď as well as the associated TeachMeet event

    I also plan to build in time to enable the upkeep and continued (what I think are) important changes to the Staff Area of the VTC!

    This has been put on hold during October / November so that in-school visits to all primary school co-ordinators (50 schools, I think?) can take place.

    It has been known to visit 3 schools in one day – a time-consuming, but valuable exercise …..in my opinion ūüôā

    Phew !!!

    Children's Online Spaces

    It’s official! The Carronshore Blog¬†has¬†received it’s 10,000th visitor!!

    It was brought to my attention by Cassie¬†…. who has now provided her Primary 5 class with their own wiki space

    In her post, Cassie wrote:

    …..¬†I am also hoping that I will begin to see the kind of online community that I witnessed with 7V last year beginning to develop. I know it won‚Äôt be the same as they do not have blogs but I‚Äôm hoping it creates a community that in turn will be a real audience for their writing.

    I’ve been pondering the benefits of giving pupils their own on-line space and have reviseted¬†the¬†Byron Review.

    I think that the statements included here, taken from that review, point to giving pupils access to online spaces (Blogs / wikis, etc.) so than they can be educated to use them in a responsible manner under teacher guidance. By doing so, they will be more prepared for eventual exposure to popular teenage sites such as MySpace and Bebo.

    ‚ÄĘ We should empower them to manage risks and make the digital world safer.

    ‚ÄĘ There is a generational digital divide which means that parents do not necessarily feel equipped to help their children in this space

    ‚ÄĘ While children are confident with the technology, they are still developing critical evaluation skills and need our help to make wise decisions.

    ‚ÄĘ Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe ‚Äď this isn‚Äôt just about a top-down approach.

    ‚ÄĘ This is no different to how we think about managing risks for children in the offline world, where decreasing supervision and monitoring occurs with age as we judge our children to be increasing in their competence to identify and manage risks.

    ‚ÄĘ We cannot make the internet completely safe. Because of this, we must also build children‚Äôs resilience to the material to which they may be exposed so that they have the confidence and skills to navigate these new media waters more safely.

    Just a thought ūüôā

     

    The Predator Myth – Take 2

    To follow on from Yesterday’s Post¬†……… John commented:

    I guess this might be different on a class/group blog, I hope so as I’ve commented on a few. My own class always seem encouraged by adult comments on their class blog, I’d not thought through the difference with personal blogs, but it it is an important point I think. (Liking the new blog look and title, John!)

    This has got me thinking about some more issues. I think that when you set up a class blog and then give the children their own space linked to that, you are in fact setting up a mini online community. The children from my own school, the children from AllStars, from Sandaig, from Loirston and from Dingwall … along with their teachers …. automatically became part of our online community.

    Very rarely do the children receive comments from outwith that community. If children post to their individual blogs, they are either from our own school, or one of the ones mentioned previously.

    John’s comment reminded me of one other incident maybe worth noting.

    Last session Darcie¬†received a comment from a teacher who had left our¬†school a year previously. The teacher was interested in setting up a class blog and had found Darcie’s blog and left a comment on a post.

     It can be viewed HERE.

     The children were unexpectedly bewildered by this, and had difficulty coming to terms with how the blogs were discovered by this teacher. Although all the children were aware of search engines, and had personal experience of using them, they still could not quite grasp how this visitor had stumbled upon one of their blogs.

    Visiting children, on the other hand, did not surprise them at all.

    They appeared to have had no real conception of what it means to publish to the ‚Äėworld wide web‚Äô. Their perceived audience was themselves and their peers.¬†

    It re-emphasises the views of Stern (2007) who stresses that knowing that their personal sites are publicly accessible does not lead most young people to envisage a broad audience for their online works.

    (Owen et al, 2006) reveal that there is growing emphasis on the need to support young people, not only to acquire knowledge and information, but also to develop the resources and skills necessary to engage with social and technical change.
     

    The Predator Myth!

    Today’s RSS blog reads led me to the Danah Boyd at HHL08 presentation on Alan Stewart’s blog.¬† I enjoyed listening to her talk, but I particularly enjoyed the ‘any questions?’ section at the end. What she said reminded me of my readings for the Literature review section of my dissertation. I’ve included bits and pieces here:

    In a study involving young people‚Äôs use of blogs, Stern (2007) found that knowing that their personal sites are publicly accessible does not lead most young people to envision a broad audience for their online works. Despite their recognition that virtually anyone with Internet access can pore over their sites, most adolescents, by and large, cannot imagine why ‚Äúsome random stranger‚ÄĚ would be interested in visiting. Rather, the typical audience that young authors visualize as they deliberate what to post online are those people that they know actually visit their sites and those whom they have directed to visit their sites.

    Buckingham (2008) states that recent studies suggest that most young people‚Äôs everyday uses of the Internet are characterised, not by spectacular forms of innovation and creativity, but by relatively mundane forms of communication and information retrieval. The technologically empowered ‚Äúcyberkids‚ÄĚ of the popular imagination may indeed exist, but even if they do, they are in a minority and they are untypical of young people as a whole. He argues that there is little evidence that most young people are using the internet to develop global connections, and that in most cases it appears to be used primarily as a means of reinforcing local networks among peers.

    In addition, he maintains that in learning with and through these media, young people are also learning how to learn. They are developing particular orientations toward information, particular methods of acquiring new knowledge and skills, and a sense of their own identities as learners. In these domains, they are learning primarily by means of discovery, experimentation, and play, rather than by following external instructions and directions.
     
    There is, however, growing concerns about the safety and privacy of young people using these media. Adults worry that, by displaying personal information, young people are putting themselves at risk from predators who may take advantage of the anonymity and unbounded nature of the internet to make contact with young people.¬†¬†An article in The Times Online (18/1/2008), entitled, ‚ÄėParents Don‚Äôt Understand Risks Posed by Internet‚Äô, quotes Byron as saying that new technologies have created a generation gap between parents and children:

    “Parents are worried about online predators, but children are more concerned about bullying and they don‚Äôt differentiate between the real world and online. It starts in the classroom and, when they get home, it‚Äôs all over their MySpace page,‚ÄĚ

    Green and Hannon (2007) found that there are some powerful myths that inform the way people think about youth culture. The main finding from their research was that the use of digital technology has been completely normalised by this generation, and it is now fully integrated into their daily lives. The majority of young people simply use new media as tools to make their lives easier, strengthening their existing friendship networks rather than widening them. Almost all are now also involved in creative production, from uploading and editing photos to building and maintaining websites. The authors argue that the current generation of decision-makers ‚Äď from politicians to teachers ‚Äď sees the world from a very different perspective to the generation of young people who do not remember life without the instant answers of the internet. They maintain that schools need to think about how they can prepare young people for the future workplace. They state that, rather than harnessing the technologies that are already fully integrated into young peoples‚Äô daily lives, schools tend to make it clear that these new media tools are unwelcome in the classroom.

    Green and Hannon (2007) state that their research suggests that the blanket approach of banning and filtering may not be the most effective safeguard. The children they interviewed were on the whole aware of potential dangers and adept at self-regulating. Where children found it easy to bypass the rules set by schools and parents, they were dependent on their understanding of what constituted inappropriate or risky behaviour.

    I think I might have witnessed a bit of what’s been discussed here when I ‘chatted’ to Danni when she was having difficulties getting a Voki to appear on her blog. Danni had already left Carronshore and had no way of contacting me for help apart from leaving a comment on the Carronshore blog. She’d seen that we’d been including Vokis on our edublogs venu, and¬†was having difficulty¬†doing the same on her edubuzz site.

    I was able to gatecrash her site, and managed to help her to get the Voki embedded successfully. She left a Thank You post. She received a comment on that post from an ‘unkown adult’ ¬†(to her, anyway).

     David Gilmour had been watching the precedings and had left a comment on her blog. When I saw it, I suspected that Danni would have been suspicious that someone outside our circle was leaving comments. It happened on another occasion, too. 

    Now, I know that David is a trusted adult – and was able to re-assure Danni the next time we met ūüôā

    There were other times when adults left comments on the pupils’ blogs. This one¬†was left by the owner of the picture that Andrew had ‘pinched’. Once again (even though I had¬†investigated the comment author) lots of re-assurance was necessary.

    It was apparent that comments from strangers were only acceptable on their own personal blogs if they were from children their own age ūüôā

    Class Blogging Reflections … Take 2

    ¬†In ‘Take 1’ of this topic, I set out to reflect on why the Carronshore class blog managed to survive successfully for 2 years … while some other class blogs seem to fail.

    I want to add some more here about Jamie’s¬†‘secret’ gift for writing!

    After he posted his story on the wiki, everyone in the class wanted to know where he got the idea from. It turned out that, as well as being an avid reader of certain types of books, he regularly logged on to his computer to play the online adventure game of RuneScape. More and more of the boys in the class logged on from home and became members.

    Thomas was one of those persuaded to give it a try and I remember him writing about it ….. and I’ve managed to locate what he wrote (almost 2 years ago now?). It can still be accessed HERE.

    The boys in the class took to writing about it in their spare time. They made little notebooks¬†by stapling bits¬†of scrap paper¬†together, and regularly compared drafted stories. I¬†tried, unsuccessfully, on a number of occasions to have the site unblocked at school (after much pleading by the boys).¬†It’s a pity we weren’t able to make more of this great opportunity to motivate.

    We had previously had some success with Samorost¬†after having read about the great results blogged about by Kim¬†(I think we’d have been able to experience the atmosphere much more had access to a whiteboard been available …. unfortunately, I’ve never had the luxury of having one in any of my classrooms).

    Well …. that was yet another trip down memory lane ūüôā I’ve just realised, though,¬†that this particular example demonstrates that even then there was a merging of the online / offline classroom, and that giving the children an online voice had an impact on the¬†informal learning …… just as was demonstrated a year later when I studied things more closely when collecting evidence for my dissertation!

    I see that Cassie¬†has just given primary 5 L/W children a wikispace too. She also¬†discovered this great site. It looks super – I’ve used it to leave a message for the children in her class …. hoping it works …. fingers crossed ūüôā

     

     

     

    Class Blogging Reflections

    ¬†As the number of class blogs continue to rise in Falkirk, I’ve been¬†contemplating why it is that some blogs go on to be very successful … and some just peter out (a few more blogs could have been added to the ‘Falkirk Blogs’ list in my sidebar, but they didn’t survive beyond the initial ‘first post’ stage).

    I produced a powerpoint presentation to demonstrate ‘reasons to blog’ with classes. I’ll try to include it below ….. true last minute edublogs style ūüôā

    Reasons To Blog 2

    View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

     

    More recently, however, I’ve reflected on my own attempt at maintaining a class blog and why it has managed to survive successfully for 2 years now. I think it might have had to do with the fact that I had a definite focus for having a class blog? I wanted to use it as a vehicle to improve the children’s writing. Our original Blogger blog still has the ‘About Us’ statement in the sidebar – still accessible HERE

    I’m glad that I still have access to the original class blog, because it reminds me of how important it became to give the children their own space to write. I wasn’t comfortable enough with the medium in the early stages to give them their own online space, so we shared a wiki. I set it up and we shared a common username and password …… an exercise in trust as the children were encouraged to log in at home.

    It was from home that Lisa posted her Two Stars and a Wish¬†post on her wiki space. We’d been experimenting with the idea of assessing our own writing and the writing of peers using the formative assessment strategy of awarding 2 stars and a wish

    We even made our¬†personalised ‘2 stars and a wish’ templates … I think this might have been Danni’s?¬†(this link goes to her own blog …. I eventually found a comfortable way of doing this thanks to Don who pointed me in the direction of David)

    One of the stories that Lisa peer assessed belonged to Jamie. Jamie was (at the time) a popular, quiet member of the class. He didn’t seem to ‘shine’ when it came to writing …. until I saw his entry on his wiki page! If I hadn’t seen him writing it up in the computer suite, I’d have accused him of plagerism ūüôā

    Some of it is included here:

     Laughing In The Face Of Death

    His face shone dark in the moonlight, while his coat lay torn slowly floating in between the reeds. His shirt was dirty and wet. The dark waters that lay behind him gave him the appearance of a demon or a dark shadowy creature moving in the night. His sheath was well padded and worn away because of constant usage, it had three diamonds encrusted in it. It had a gold rim and a thin copper lining wrapped around it. This lay on his back but it never wieghed him down as it was as light as a feather. He had black boots on and they were half-covered by his camouflage trousers.
    He walked on at a normal pace when he heard a purring noise, after a while he ignored it and carried on his stroll. He heard it again. He was watching a certain bush knowing that there was a creature behind it because of all the wierd purring noises. the world stayed as still as a stick insect as they lay eyes on eachother there was more rustling then the beast came out, a tiger that was as orange as sunset heading speedily at Kai. In reaction Kai drew his sword from his sheath and took a deep slash at the tiger’s leftpaw then stabbed it twice roundabout the same place the tiger had gave in to the pain and there it lay dead……

    You can read the rest of jamie’s story HERE.

    Before I press ‘publish’, I have to admit that going through the process of writing this post has raised¬†some important¬†questions for me.

    ¬†Is my own qualitative research¬†(a case study methodology was chosen)¬†really less valuable than Jaye’s and Derek’s as suggested?

    I wouldn’t know how¬†to quantify my ‘story’ ūüôā

    Calameo

    I think I’ve got Calameo working on here now – but the important ‘view full screen’ tab is the only one not working ūüôĀ¬†

    Oh well … I’ll put a link to the ‘working doc’ on the Falkirk VTC area HERE

    Here’s the ‘full screen not working’ version on edublogs …. hopefully ūüôā

     

     

    New Job Update

    I’ve spent a long time avoiding posting on this site …. not sure why ūüôā

    Happy to see that edublogs seems to be up and running again, too.

    Anyway – I’ve been VERY busy in my new post. We’re about half way through visiting each of the ICT co-ordinators in their own schools and it’s great to be able to help out with school websites. Almost all schools have moved over to Schools-Online and I’ve become comfortable with the set-up.

    I was happy to discover that it’s possible to embed files using html codes, and this has meant that I’ve been able to allow staff to access some CPD courses online via the Falkirk VTC staff website. For example, courses on Blogging, Podcasting and Comic Life are all online. I’ve uploaded some ‘How To’ videos on to the site as well.

    Last week, however,¬†I learned (while delivering a course!) that it’s not possible to upload more than one photobucket video to schools-online sub pages – each video appeared to upload ok, but when I clicked on the sub-pages during the actual presentation, all we got to see was the first video over and over again ūüôĀ

    Luckily, a bit of ‘thinking on my feet’ led to me logging on to my actual photobucket account and we viewed the videos from there …. phew!! I’ve since hosted them at schooltube … things seem to be working fine now ūüôā

    ¬†I’ve also been experimenting with other ways of showing the videos. Sliderocket, for example, allows you to easily embed videos within an already uploaded powerpoint slideshow. It’s also very easy to resize the uploaded video by just dragging from the corners (the same way as you would with a pic here on edublogs). Hopefully this link to the falkirk vtc site will work to show what I mean (the video is on the second slide – a work in progress).

    Click HERE to find out if it works ūüôā

    I’ve also¬†found that powerpoints hosted at Google Docs can take an age to load in some schools. A better option seems to be Calameo. Check it out below. It’s also possible to upload and share large pdf files. I tried it out with my 98 page dissertation and it¬†showed up¬†fine at work … unlike scribd which, like Go-Animate,¬†can be hit or miss (dreaded bandwidth issues?).

    I’ll do the usual edublogs thing to embed html codes … just have to press ‘publish’ and can’t check it works before I do that so fingers crossed. Let me know what you think of calameo (if it works) – check out the option features as shown in the image below, too!

     

    ¬†Didn’t work ūüôĀ

    I’ll try again!

    Teacheet, Teachmeet and SLF'08

    ¬†Thanks to Mr W¬†for the photograph. I spotted it on his flickr link. I’ve cropped the original a bit to show Shirley and¬†myself deep in conversation at Teacheet. Shirley decided to come along at the last minute and I’m glad she did ….. more great CPD ūüôā

    ……And she’s hoping to come along in January to meet up with Kim. Isn’t it amazing that we’ve all become virtual friends as a result of having class blogs!

    This was my third visit to the Learning Festival,¬†but my first time viewing the events in my new role. I’m not sure why I was¬†able to attend the festival as a class teacher for two years in a row (I think I must have said I wanted to hear one of the speakers who was talking about a topic that might have helped my Chartered Teacher studies).¬†Normally it was only members of the management team who went …. I’m pretty sure that, in my 12 years of being at the school, no other classroom teachers had the¬†opportunity to attend – maybe they never asked :).

    During¬†recent visits other schools,¬†however, I’ve become aware of the extent that some school management teams have gone to this year to make sure that as many class teachers as possible¬†were able to attend the festival. On my own first visit in 2006 l stumbled upon (only because I had some time to ‘kill’) the one seminar that led to a total change in my classroom practice, the basis for my CT dissertation¬†… and my eventual secondment opportunity!

    Wednesday was a very long day. I attended some great seminars. On Thursday, I even met Sharon Toner when I attended her 12 minute session on the use of mobile phones in the classroom (I seriously need to upgrade my phone!)

    But back to Wednesday ….. before Teacheet, there was Teachmeet¬†– it was great. I really regret not taking notes. I remember thinking … gosh, that’s a great idea! …. several times during the evening. When I returned to work on Friday my colleagues asked me what the highlights were and I talked about quite a few, but I knew I’d missed some. That’s why it’s great that some of the presenters are blogging about their ‘slot’. Jonesieboy¬†was one of these bloggers.¬†His pupils made a great¬†GoAnimate animation – unfinished ūüôā

    I’m also glad that he mentioned that it would work just as well with Comic Life – we’ve just installed it in all our computers, and as we only have intermittent access to GoAnimate (something to do with bandwidth?), it’s great to know we can have similar projects in our own classrooms.

     

     

    Two Bits of News

    The first bit of news is that I finally got round to signing up for this year’s TeachMeet and I’m looking forward to ‘lurking and listening’.

    I see that on the list of ‘lurkers’, there’s an Ian Cameron – I wonder if it’s the same Ian?¬†

     

    The second bit of news is that I received an email to say that the Voices of the World project is all set to resume soon.

    Cassie only mentioned last week that she’d love to be part of this with Primary 5L/W via the Carronshore Blog ….. great!!!

    Cool Tools!

    The last post showed an example of how Ian Cameron used Comic Life in his classroom. I referred to how he used it on the Falkirk VTC website …. but because Schools Online¬†has got a really annoying habit of timing out after a very short time, I can’t link to the entry so I’ll include the text here.

    “Ian Cameron, a Staff Tutor with Dundee City Council, kindly allowed us to use this video. The children used a very simply made cut out figure as a stimulus for making this comic. They brainstormed what ‚Äėmischief‚Äô the character could get up to. They then wrote a draft script before going off to record the action on camera. The comic was constructed using photographs and text before being exported as a video.”

    I’ve quoted him from memory …. hope I got it right ūüôā

    Ian was also interested in some of the freely available online tools we’ve used in class blogs. Some of them are listed (with examples of how they were used) on the Staff area of the VTC. The example below shows how we used Voicethread¬†to showcase how groups of children were responsible for researching a particular Aboriginal Dreamtime Story as part of our ‘Australia’ topic.

     

    I’ve since found this wonderful wiki that gives links to loads more …. and they’re really well organised, too! I’ts at cooltoolsforschools

     

     

    Schooltube

    http://www.schooltube.com/
    I recently found this site and I’m testing it out. It certainly seems secure …. I’ve spent ages trying to sign up and then upload this very short video ūüôā

    The support I received has been great, though. All email enquiries were very promptly dealt with.

    Here’s the same short video that appeared in the last post.

     

    Community Thoughts

    I’ve been thinking about the community we might be building via the Carronshore blog.

    Miss L replied to Maryam today …. she wrote:

    Thank you for replying. We hope your fingers aren’t too sore!

    The children in P5LW would love to meet you if you come to parents’night.

    Memoona in our class will be doing Ramadan on Saturday so she explained all about it. Good luck with the rest of Ramadan!

    Great to hear from you!

    P 5LW )

    Maryam also left a comment on this blog (I’ve still to reply!) and another comment appeared from Monica. She commented that one of the Falkirk Bloggers mentioned in the last post is her French teacher.

    Meanwhile Miss Keane’s pupils are still blogging about their learning through Drama, and the Dunipace pupils continue to leave comments on the Carronshore blog.

    ¬†It was also great to read the post on 08 AllStars blog congratulating Carronshore for coming up with great ideas for them to try out in P.E. ….. well done Miss L and P5L/W ūüôā

    Elsewhere in Falkirk, the pupils in P7 at Easter Carmuirs have been trying out the great things that comic life can do to improve literacy skills.

    This short video was made¬†by a¬†group of pupils¬†using the¬†comic life software. It¬†was given to me today by a¬†Ian from Dundee¬† . He was very impressed by the difference it made to the children’s learning…… I’ll give full credit tomorrow when I have access to his ‘proper title’ ūüôā

    Falkirk Bloggers …. Take 2!

    Some Falkirk Blogs …..

    When writing this post earlier this evening, a new comment arrived¬†from Maryam¬†¬†. ¬†I pressed ‘publish’¬†but¬†then¬†realised my blog was a¬†bit ‘dis-jointed’ because I’d been experimenting with ‘copy and paste’ from the Falkirk website and from ‘word’¬†.

    When I checked the post, I realised that the sidebar had disappeared completely and decided to delete the post and re-write it ….. so part of this post might be a repeat read for some¬† ūüôā

    http://mrmeikle.edublogs.org/

    http://eastercarmuirs.edublogs.org/

    http://carronshore.edublogs.org/

    http://bainsford.edublogs.org/

    http://srbrown1.edublogs.org/

    http://bantaskin7k.edublogs.org/

    http://sacred6.edublogs.org/

    http://misskeane.edublogs.org/

    http://bitlarbert.edublogs.org/

    http://misslaw.edublogs.org/

    http://p7dunipace.edublogs.org/

    http://carronshore6s.edublogs.org/

    This list doesn’t include the Carronshore individual Pupil blogs from the last 2 years. Some of them still take the time to be part of the blogging community even though they’ve moved on to High School.
    Just recently, Maryam commented on Primary 5L/W’s class blog. She wrote:
     

    “Hello everyone!
    Its me Maryam.
    Im sure some of you might remember me. I use to go to Carronshore primary but now i am in high school. Phew! I am so tired waking up every morning ans going to school that i think my legs might just fall off. He he. And its bad enough to find my classes. THE WHOLE SCHOOL IS LIKE A HUGE MAZE! I keep getting lost and i have to keep asking the teachers for help which is a bit embarrasing.
    And when you guys start high school. Don’t worry one bit about the stupid rumour that has been going round, that you will be getting your head flushed down the toillet. Our headteacher, who we call the rector said that rumour has been going round for OVER 100 YEARS! Wow! Don’t worry its not true.
    I have just saw your video and WOW you all look SOOO different. Very different i hardly recognized you.
    I will hopefully write back soon.‚ÄĚ

    Miss Law replied:

    “Hi Maryam!
    How are you? I’ve spoken to the class and a lot of them remember you from last year! How’s high school going?
    5LW really appreciated the fact you told them that that silly rumour isn’t true! See, I told you!
    Keep blogging about your high school adventures, we‚Äôd love to read about them!‚ÄĚ

    ….. And yesterday¬†Maryam did reply ‚Äď she wrote:

    “Hello everyone.
    Its me agian
    Sorry i haven’t been able to write back, been a bit busy alot with homework. I have been doing all kinds of stuff this month, i have been keeping ramadan which i think some of you are maybe fimilair with, you know. The time of month that you don’t eat, Well ovbiously you dont eat for A WHOLE MONTH!Hehe. No, you wake up early in the morning like about four or something, the time changes every day. Then you eat and then pray then back to bed and then don’t eat ANYTHING till the evening, which that time changes aswell. The time you wake up goes higher and the time you eat goes lower.. so its kind of getting shorter. Get me? You kind of get hungry but i’m getting use to it… Sorta.
    I am really missing Carronshore, ecpecially the time you have to get there! At high school you have to be there at 8:40am, and you aren’t alowed to be late. It’s not tricky but you’ll get use to it :).
    I was hoping on coming to parents night at Carronshore, with my little brothers. I wan’t to see there reports AND everyone else, like the teachers like Miss Law :).
    Augh, My fingers are getting sore typing, I’ll write back soon. Bye bye!

    Maybe we are building a community?

    You can read¬†Maryam’s comment by clicking¬†here.

     

    More Reflection

    Image from …… Barnstable, Janet. reflect.jpg. “created February, 2000”. Pics4Learning. 16 Sep 2008 http://pics.tech4learning.com

     

     

    Yesterday’s post on a Compuer use survey by primary 7V led to a comment being left on the class blog by John. He wrote :

    “A very interesting survey primary 7, I think I’ll try it with my class later this week.
    I am a teacher I¬† enjoy using my computer at home more than school too, but I do enjoy using computers in school. I wonder why Adam gives powerpoint a 3 in school and a 4 at home?”

    What I didn’t make clear is that the survey was carried out by me last year …. and when I looked closely at the date, it showed that it actually took place during the the very first week of the first term in 2007.

    I really regret now that¬†I didn’t repeat the survey in June (too late now as they’ve all gone off to High School).

    We had an exciting year using blogs, wikis and lots of freely available software and I’m pretty sure the results from an end of year survey would have shown a more positive reaction to school use.

    Very bad forward planning ūüôā

    Back Again Already!

     

    I checked out the Carronshore Blog so that I could link it to the last post on here. I noticed that a large percentage of the live traffic was linking to a post about computer use at home versus school. 

    I’ve noticed¬†an interest in this post before. I’ve ‘copied and pasted’ on to here …

    Computer Use

    Yesterday was our first day in Primary 7 and we brainstormed on paper how we use computers at home and at school. We rated the programmes on a scale from 1 to 5. 1 meant we didn’t rate it very much, 5 meant it was great. Adam’s is shown below.

    small-computer.JPG

    We all agreed that, in general, we enjoyed using our computers at home more than at school. We wrote statements to add more information.

    Adam wrote, ‚ÄúThe reason the computer at home is better than the computer at school is because nothing is blocked.‚ÄĚ

    Rhiann wrote, ‚ÄúThe stuff we have to do at school on the computers is a bit boring so I think home is better.‚ÄĚ

    Nobody enjoyed using computers at school as much as they did at home ……… oh dear! I wonder how we can change that!

    2 Responses to ‚ÄúComputer Use‚ÄĚ

    1.   monica Says:
      August 22nd, 2007 at 1:52 pm The reason that I like my home computer is that i do not have to log on and none of the games are blocked
    2.   P7teach Says:
      August 22nd, 2007 at 2:54 pm Thanks for your comment Monica! Logging on is a bit of a nuisance!I wonder what others in the class think?

    In Case Anyone's Listening …

    listen.jpgThis pic was found in the pics4learning website.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I’ve really been neglecting this ‘learning journey’ blog … so apologies to anyone who’s been listening to the silence ūüôā

    A previous  reflective post  taught me a lesson that, although the schools-online

     staff and pupil areas can be linked to from a blog post, menu items cannot!

    So what have I learned since then¬†¬†…….. ?

    I’ve learned that there are some great blogs being set up in Falkirk – check out¬†Miss Keane’s new¬†Drama Blog by clicking HERE.¬†If you have the time, please leave a comment ūüôā

    And Miss Law is doing a superb job keeping the Carronshore blog active!

    I’ve also been reading about some great new Google Earth developments. I had great fun tonight playing around¬†in the Demo Gallery.

    ¬†Reading the good news about John J’s new post¬†¬†(well deserved, john!) reminded me¬†that I’d already set up an account at vimeo …. and I checked today and it’s not blocked at work ūüôā

     

    More CPD

    Another set of teachers are here today!

    CPD

    The CICT co-ordinators are here learning how to upload from photbucket!

    More Reflections

    ¬†This picture of Loch Achray taken¬†yesterday by J. Vass on¬†our way to Ben A’An (great way to spend the Falkirk September long weekend!) seemed an appropriate image for this ‘reflective’ post ūüôā

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Recently I’ve been busy visiting¬†some ICT co-ordinators¬†to help them set up their school websites. I’ve also been very busy getting to grips with the Schools-online web application used by¬†most Falkirk schools.

    Getting to know this application¬†has also made¬†updating the Falkirk VTC website¬†and the linked¬†Staff Area¬†easier and I’ve already made some changes.

    Blogging with Classes presentations have been added (using google docs saved me a lot of¬†work – I just¬†made some necessary changes to¬†a few slides from a previous presentation and the update was immediate). The link to some ¬†Great Free Online Tools¬†is now ‘live’ and I’ve even¬†mentioned¬†a few¬†Falkirk Class Blogs!

    This afternoon was the first of the Probationers ‘taster sessions’ to let them know what’s available to help them use ICT to improve Learning and Teaching …. tomorrow is the first of the ICT co-ordinator meetings. Just this week alone there are 2 Probationer meetings and 3 ICT co-ordinator meetings. I’m also signed up for a 2 day course at Stirling Management Centre – I need to learn to juggle more plates ūüôā

    More On Cool Tools

    Today I went (back) along to Carronshore¬†because¬†Primary 5L/W¬†were interviewing some visitors from¬†a local Asda store that’s¬†due to open soon nearby. I¬†suggested to¬†Miss Law that it might be a good idea to use the new Animoto for Education¬†website to produce a video of the event. Unfortunately, we discovered that we couldn’t upload the mp3 file¬†of the interview because¬†we worked out that Animoto needs a music file so that the cool effects can happen¬†to the uploaded images.

    Eventually we used Photostory 3 to produce a video podcast of the event. A few minutes were spent uploading this to photobucket. The results can now be seen on the Primary 5L/W blog.

    It was frustrating not being able to upload the children’s voices to the Animoto ‘show’- having randomly chosen music accompanying the pictures wouldn’t have had the same effect.

    Later this evening, however, I thought about a lovely moment last session when we ‘recorded’ the children in Primary 7V reading their¬†own storybooks to the Primary 2 children in the school. I’ve included it here. The photographs were uploaded to One True Media¬†and a soundrack was added. There’s obvious pride in the older children’s faces as they read their stories ….. and the younger children¬†appear to be¬†a captive audience ūüôā

    Diary Filling Up … Still :)

     

    I’m constantly updating my diary with school visits, twighlight courses, meetings … even a trip to BETT (should I choose to!).

    Cool tools like myPlick      Photobucket       Slideshare    and     Animoto    are all on the agenda.

    What’s important, though, is that learning is at the heart of all the fun.

    ¬†Sharon’s ¬†great project ¬†Voices of the World¬† is a perfect example of this. At Carronshore last session we had heaps of fun being part of it all, and we hardly noticed that we were learning along the way ūüôā

    Talking of fun while learning ūüôā

    ¬†….¬†all of the Primary 7’s interviewed their parents last session so that they could write about their early years (as part of¬†an autobiography).¬†They each¬†took home an mp3 recorder so that they could find someone at home who could answer the questions they had devised about their earlier years.

    Bethany made use of her experience of using vokis in class to produce this wonderful interview with her mum – enjoy ūüôā

    Ready For Week 2!

    It was a busy week last week, but I think that things are set to become even more busy in the near future. The first ICT Support Team meeting of the session takes place tomorrow at 9 am. We’ll be joined at 11 am by the ICT Support Engineers. The agenda has been emailed to all concerned. I have some general¬†ideas about the Falkirk VTC¬†site. I’ll bring these up at the meeting tomorrow – more on that later.

    Later in the day, I’ll be paying a visit to Cassie at Carronshore Primary … it’ll be nice to catch up with all the staff there, too:) I’ve arranged the visit because Cassie has been asked if her class will interview representatives from a new Asda store due to open up nearby soon. The interview is set for Thursday. Primary 7V interviewed a variety of visitors and the technique of asking good questions was stressed(brainstorming open-ended questions, role-play in small groups, feedback of findings, etc.)

    When it comes to the actual interview, there’s decisions to make about what format it should take. It may be a simple podcast using Audacity to convert to an mp3 file, a video can be created using a digital video camera … or it may be that¬†some children take photographs of the event while others conduct the interview using an mp3 recording device. (i’ve just received an email from the people at Animoto¬†to say that I’ve been successful in my Animoto For Education application – this might be the ideal choice!)

    I suppose the strangest thing about my new post is not having a class to test out all the new cool web 2.0 tools that keep popping up. Go Animate¬†has been discussed a few times in the scodedublogs feed.¬†Malcolm (one of my new colleagues) and¬†I¬†looked at it on Friday and were both suitably impressed. It was agreed that later on in the session¬†a ‘special events’ evening¬†should be arranged to showcase the potential some of these tools have for improving learning and teaching …… ¬†but what we needed was a teacher with a class to try one out. I contacted Cassie when I returned home from work and she is more than happy to try out Go Animate with her class and has agreed to share her experience of using it by coming along to the special events evening to reveal any improvements made to literacy as a result.

    I really didn’t mean to leave it so long before¬†writing this 2nd ‘new job’ post – hopefully, I’ll get more organised soon ūüôā¬†

    The End of the First Day

    ¬†picture by Brian Vass – Tofino sunset ūüôā

     

    Well … I survived my first day. In fact it was quite pleasant ūüôā

    ¬†My diary is filling up and my new phone with the much needed ‘sat-nav’ facillity is very much appreciated – and needed :

    (my lack of sense of direction has been the topic of many a Carronshore staffroom ‘chuckle’).

    Good luck tomorrow to the new primary 5L/W, and to the new Ist and 2nd year Larbert High pupils!!

    More soon¬† …..¬†

    Fresh Starts :)

    I’ve changed my blog theme and my blog title ….. and I’m thinking about my new¬†secondment that I’ll start tomorrow.

    I’m not the only one making a fresh start tomorrow. Miss Law included a great post about her thoughts on moving on from a student teacher to a probationer …. thanks for the lovely comments, Miss L ūüôā

    Primary 5L/W are lucky to be getting a new teacher who is very enthusiastic and genuinely excited at the prospect of helping them to enjoy their learning experience.

    And, of course, last sessions Primary 7’s are all geared up for their new adventures at Larbert High ūüôā

    I hope that at least some of them continue to post to their blogs ……. and wikis.

    Bethany’s last words to me in Primary 7 were that I should keep an eye on her pbwiki, because she intended to update it over the summer. Click on her weemee below to view the revisions she’s made to her stories – the most recent was just 4 days ago. I hope she keeps it up¬†because I love reading her adventurous stories – and her awareness of audience is very apparent ūüôā

    Bethany’s PBwiki¬†revisions can be viewed by clicking on her weeme¬†here :¬†¬†¬† weebethanyr.png

    Edublogstv

    I had trouble recently with receiving comments on this blog. I left a message in the help forums and noticed a post about ‘edublogstv’. It’s possible to transfer videos from Youtube, etc. over to edublogstv – great for getting around blocked access at school. There are teething problems, however, because it appears that only one video can be uploaded to a blog’s homepage … previous edublogtv videos then disappear. Hopefully they’ll find a way around this soon ūüôā

    Meanwhile, here’s an example. I’ve seen this somewhere on the blogosphere, but on Youtube (I’ll need to pop the code in, then ‘publish’ right away for it to work. As I can’t ‘preview’ it first … fingers crossed!)


    This text will be replaced

    var so = new SWFObject(“http://www.edublogs.tv/flvplayer.swf”,”mpl”,”450″,”355″,”8″);so.addParam(“allowscriptaccess”,”always”);so.addParam(“allowfullscreen”,”true”);so.addVariable(“height”,”355″);so.addVariable(“width”,”450″);so.addVariable(“file”,”http://www.edublogs.tv/uploads/vLKgZfCidXsdE0NdG1Sv.flv”);so.addVariable(“searchbar”,”false”);so.write(“player”);

    Some Chartered Teacher Thoughts

     This post was partly inspired by Ferghal  who has just completed module 1 of the Chartered Teacher course (well done!). In his post, he wrote:
    I’m hoping that as my confidence grows, I will be able to post my assignments online before submission and make use of this community.

    I really wish that I had done just that with all my modules, too. Blogging about the final dissertation stage and receiving words of encouragement – or¬†maybe just the occassional comment from others online was definately very benificial to me. Even just writing for a potential audience forced me to focus more on the different chapters. Rather than leaving loads of unfinished drafts, I¬†felt the need¬†to ‘tidy’ them up a bit before submitting them to the ‘world’.

    David left a comment on Ferghal’s post to congratulate him and to ask what his next plans were. He mentioned ‘double modules’. I only heard of this option recently. Stirling are allowing the choice of completing the Chartered Teacher pathway in 3 years by opting to write double the amount of words on half the amount of modules (or so I’ve been told?)

     With the UWS route, I completed  four core modules at Post graduate certificate level:

    Reflective Practice: Critical Self-evaluation and Development
    (Module 1, Self-Evaluation)
    Effective Teaching for Effective Learning
    (Module 2, Learning and Teaching)
    Equality and Diversity in Education
    (Module 3, Education for All)
    Essential Personal Communication
    (Module 4, Working Together)

    Followed by 4 Option Modules. The modules I chose were:

    Teaching and Learning of Core Skills: Numeracy
    Developing Cognitive Flexibility
    Mentoring and Supporting Students, Probationers and Colleagues
    Introducing eLearning, eTeaching and eAssessment

    Each of these modules had to contain between 3 to 4000 words (I think it started out as 3000, but as the course progressed the ‘wordage’ crept up to 4000). It took 4 years to complete these eight modules. I then had the choice of undertaking 2 smaller dissertations (10-15000 words) over 2 years, or one larger dissertation (20-25000 words) over 1 year. I chose the larger dissertation over 1 year.

    When I began the CT journey, there was no option to complete the course by doing double modules. I’m glad I completed all 8 core and option modules because I learned so much about so many different topics. If the Stirling option had been available, would I have chosen it ….. probably ūüôā¬†¬†¬†¬†

    (although the cost would have been an issue Рpresumably the double modules cost double the money, meaning an outlay of around £2000 a year instead of £1000?)

    Ferghal also shared his essay via scribd¬†(I tried to leave a comment on his blog explaining how to embed it in to edubuzz, but I linked it to the carronshore blog by mistake. I’m not sure what happened but it seems that some comments appear right away and some require moderation??)

    Anyway, if anyone wants a VERY long read, here’s my dissertation ūüôā

     

    Now I'm There :)

    The post arrived this morning, and¬†along with¬†the usual ‘here’s your latest bank statement / junk mail’ normal stuff, there was a very large¬†brown envelope.Here’s what it contained ūüôā

    certificate.jpg

    Oh my goodness! Now I’m there ūüôā

    I think it was worth all the hard work and I’m glad¬†I finally got round to ‘going that extra mile’. My 800 word application was quite easy to write after all ūüôā

     

     


    A New Road

    Picture by Jack Vass ūüôā

    Today I went in to school to finally clear out the last of my clutter. I also met up with Cassie and ‘handed over’ the Carronshore¬†Blog¬†. Already there are two new posts. I really think she’ll enjoy blogging with her new class and I’m sure that her enthusiasm will take it to new heights ūüôā

    Meanwhile, I’m off on my ‘new road’ – and I’m looking forward to ‘blogging’ about what I get up to ūüôā

    ……. but I also¬†intend to keep in touch with any new posts or entries¬†from the ‘old’ Primary 7 blogs and wikis. I’m in the process of transferring these spaces to this blog. They’ll appear on pages on this blog …. a work in progress, but you can check them out here and here meanwhile ūüôā

     

    Some Impulsive CPD

    My big sis hasn’t been too well and I’m glad to be¬†able to make use of the¬†summer holidays to travel through to Glasgow to keep her company. This was one of the reasons that I decided to take up Ewan’s offer to go along to¬†one of the¬†LTS ‘Inspiration’ sessions – It meant that I could have another excuse to pop in on her ……. and I also hoped to learn something, too ūüôā

    I had no idea what to expect, but I thought we’d be discussing Glow. It was great, therefore, to see that Jaye¬†had decided to come along, too. I’m a reader of her blog, but¬†don’t really appreciate the ‘chat’ because I can’t visualise what Glow looks like. It got a bit more confusing when David G’s recent post was discussed. In East Lothian, they’ve noticed problems with even internet savvy staff. I wish that I was in a position to get a little preview of what Glow ‘looks like’. I can read all about it (and often do) but I need the chance to ‘play’ with it before I can appreciate what’s being written by those who already have access. I suppose I felt a bit less¬†ignorant when David N¬†said that he’d only had a brief experience of glow.

    I’m glad that I took the time to go to the session .. despite giving a very spur-of-the-moment response to Ewan when he asked me to give my opinion of the LTS website. When put on the spot, I tend to ramble … and I DID ramble – went totally off the subject ūüôā

    Anyway, it was just great to see all these bloggers ‘face-to-face’.

    And my big sis and I had a lovely¬†late lunch¬†in the Art Lover’s Cafe just a short walk from her house. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the walled garden close by. We took some pics when we were there. I’ve made a movie and added the same ‘jolly music’ from Ewan’s delicious site that I put on to the class blog.

     

    Not There Yet!!!!

    I’m half way through the summer break and still can’t bring myself to ‘go that extra mile’.

    A letter arrived from the GTCs soon after I received the news of my success (still smiling!) asking for another essay – well, an ‘application’ actually¬†(only 800 words – thank goodness!).

    I need to explain how I’ve demonstrated that I’ve achieved and maintained the Standard for Chartered Teacher. I also need to explain why¬†I believe that I should be presented with the ‘Professional Award of chartered Teacher’.

    There’s a lot more that has to be included in the 800 word report.

    Tomorrow …. or the next day …. or the next ūüôā

    Meanwhile I’m so impressed with Miss L’s recent post. Here’s a wee bit:

    I think keeping a blog throughout my final placement allowed me for the first time to reflect naturally as opposed to the structured way in which I had previously. This helped me a great deal whilst writing my final assignments. For this reason I intend to keep writing on this blog throughout the course of next year and this, along with my learning journal, will hopefully help me to inform my practice and therefore complete the induction year successfully! )

    She’s inspired me to keep going with this blog. You can read the rest of her post by visiting her blog

     

     

    What A Week :)

    I danced about the classroom this afternoon because I got an ‘A’ for my C.T. disssertation¬†ūüôā

    I never saw it coming – well done me ūüôā

    … I hope that Kim realises how much her¬†comments kept me going at the last stretch.

    Meanwhile I allowed the P7’s total control of the camera when the nursery came to visit. They¬†did a great job!

    Take a look ……

    Pastures New!

     
    Much to my surprise, I have been appointed the new member of my local authority ICT support team! I’ll be in the post for 23 months.

     

    Meanwhile I learned that ¬†Miss Law is returning to Carronshore as a Probationer Teacher. I am so happy that she has agreed to take over the day to day running of my Carronshore class blog until I return … I’m sure she’ll do a great job ūüôā

     

    Hand Delivered To Ayr Campus ….

    Evelyn W and I have gone through the Chartered Teacher journey
    together and today we went along to hand in our dissertations.

    A grand day out!!

    All we have to do now is pass ūüôā

    It's In Safe Hands :)

    Well …. it’s gone now and there’s nothing more I can do apart from have a very welcomed glass of wine (at least that might help to blur the carnage that used to be home!)

    It’s in the local bookbinders, Tom Valentine’s, just a 5 minute walk from here. They’ve got a website. Have a look

    They were so nice Рand they even offered to allow 4 or 5 budding book writers from my class to pay a visit so that the children can have first hand experience of seeing their writing turned in to a real book! The children are just over the moon at the prospect! Watch this space for the chosen few (who will make that decision??? Рnot me !)

    Anyway … I took some photographs of the moment I handed my chartered teacher dissertation over. I’ll see the ‘dressed up’ version on Monday when I go to collect it and deliver it to the Uni ūüôā

    Three Quarters of the Way There!!

    I’ve put the last full stop and printed it off …… all ready for tomorrow morning’s drop off at the printer’s!

    Phew!!

    Meanwhile, Marc has put a great post on his blog about this evening’s CPD ‘Blog Training’ – thanks Marc :).

    I was too¬†‘essay’d out’¬†ūüôā

    Marc’s blog new blog post is HERE

    The Abstract …. Thanks Kim :)

    ¬†This post is for Kim who has kept me going! It’s been great receiving her supportive comments.¬†I read them and think … OK – maybe it’s not such drivel after all ūüôā

    The abstract (like everything else) still needs fixed.

    Unfortunately, I think I’ve gone off on a tangent again ?:(

    Abstract

    Current thinking in the review of literature suggests that it is possible to draw on the online communication skills already being developed in pupils’ lives outside of school. The literature also proposes that, as blogs and wikis are not unlike the new media tools currently being used by young people today, these media could potentially be adapted by schools to allow e-learning to occur successfully.¬†

    This study sets out to investigate whether weblogs and wikis and other emerging social software tools can be used to create an effective on-line learning community. The research is confined to one particular class of primary 7 pupils who have been using these new social software tools since entering their final year of primary school. A fresh approach to using the blogs and wikis was adopted during the three month research period and the children were given the freedom to use the tools as they wished within a supportive online environment. The teacher’s role became that of a facilitator, and guidance was provided through creating a sense of online audience by submitting comments on the children’s posts regularly. Offline, new interesting posts were shared with the children. 

    Particular consideration is paid to:·        

    • ¬†Online Identities / gender issues¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
    • The relationship between the online / offline environments¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
    • Resulting impact on teaching and learning¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
    • Consequential formal and informal learning¬†

    A case study method was adopted. Data was gathered systematically throughout the research period and consists of:

    • Observations – regular checks in order to monitor blog posts and comments, and wiki entries
    • Field notes ‚Äď updated regularly on a blog set up for the purpose of narrating the research journey
    • Interviews (structured and unstructured) ‚Äď in order to establish views of all concerned
    • Triangulation ‚Äď enlistment of a sceptical colleague and a critical friend to ensure that the perception of events is fair and accurate ¬†¬†

    This case study consists of two elements. The first is concerned with the wider field of focus, and analyses the breadth and depth of posts and comments. The second narrows in to investigate any formal / informal learning taking place, and explores the useful features and barriers of managing web 2.0 tools with primary school children

    ¬†The findings show that the relationship between the digital and the real worlds began to merge and this had an impact on teaching and learning. The children‚Äôs informal online voices began to have a direct influence on what was to be included in their more formal offline learning programme. Sharing the entries from the blogs and wikis in the offline environment of the classroom had a direct influence on the teaching and learning taking place. The curriculum became more ‚Äėchild led‚Äô.

    ……. I keep editing this final bit AAAAGHH!

    I’ll try writing the acknowledgement section, or something else less likely to hurt¬†the brain!!

    Ok … Things are Getting Serious Now

    I need to have this dissertation ready for Thursday morning so that the local ‘Bookbinder’ can have it ready for Monday’s deadline. I’ve written the ‘Implication’ section (probably needs a wee bit of fixing ….. should I add links to some Chartered Teacher competencies, for example?) Anyway, the implications are included in this post.

    Sooo that leaves the Abstract and the Acknowledgements ……. and I have National Tests to administer tomorrow – and a co-operative learning ‘after school thing’ tomorrow … followed by a Dentist appointment at 5.30pm (no doubt resulting in a very numb face).

    On Wednesday, there’s more testing – followed by the final CPD Blogging twighlight session…… and then it’s Thursday – HELP!!

    Implications

    The Standard for Chartered Teacher Document (2002), states that:¬†‚ÄúIn every Sphere of his or her work the Chartered Teacher should be reviewing practice, searching for improvements, turning to reading and research for fresh insights and relating these to the classroom and the school.‚ÄĚ

    Taking part in this case study has given me an opportunity to reflect on my own teaching. Some of the findings from the research were unexpected. I set out to investigate if the strategies I had put in place would lead to the creation of an online learning community. I was not prepared for the effect this would have on the offline environment of the classroom and for the changes to the content and delivery of the curriculum.

    Giving the children the freedom to use their online spaces as they wished allowed a deeper insight to their persona. An online community did develop, but that was on the periphery. The sharing of thoughts, opinions, ideas and personal likes and dislikes began as online blog posts. These were then developed in the offline classroom setting, giving rise to opportunities to increase motivation by modifying the programme of study to one that was more ‚Äėchild led‚Äô.¬†

    Early on in the study, doubts began to creep in about whether or not leaving the children ‚Äėto their own devices‚Äô might result in blog and wiki entries fizzling out. I felt despondent at the lack of written posts by the boys in particular. An entry in my online journal, however, describes the level of enthusiasm they displayed when demonstrating to adults how we use the new media.

    This prompted a comment from my online critical friend, Kim. She made some important observations which I’ve included here: 

    I’ve just realized that your preparations for your CPD sessions actually reinforced your findings in your dissertation! You said in your dissertation that the boys especially enjoyed telling visitors to your ICT stand (at a technology show) how they used ICT in their learning, and that they would be great at helping at your CPD sessions, by making and using Vokis and Animotos. The Vokis and Animotos are visual Рlike the prevalence of pictures on the boys blogs. I’ve noticed that the boys in my class also are really good at making topic related vokis and animotos.In my experience, girls use these applications in a different way Рmore about how they see themselves, or want to see themselves; as opposed to the boys filling these applications with topic specific pictures and content.So you see ….. your preparations didn’t actually hinder your dissertation prep Рjust supported it in a different way. PS Girls seem more word oriented evidenced by their blogging stories, commentaries etc; whereas boys tend to prefer visual (and less text oriented) ways of expressing themselves. Maybe boys prefer to talk and show how to use an application, rather than using application for personal reasons.

    The CPD (Continuing Professional Development) sessions mentioned in Kim’s comment were instigated following a discussion I had with our Local Authority’s Curriculum Development Manager before the commencement of this study. I had wanted to find out the Authority’s view of using web 2.0 tools with pupils. I was left with no doubt that this was seen as the way forward to develop all areas of learning. At the time of that conversation, however, there was no specific policy in place about the use of these new online tools. I was informed that the main priority was to find ways of helping teachers to feel comfortable with the new technologies in order to monopolise on the online communication skills already being developed in the pupils’ lives outside of school.As I was undertaking this research study, I was approached by the Authority’s curriculum development team and asked if I would host some CPD sessions to introduce teachers to blogging with their classes.

    Three twighlight sessions were arranged and the response to these was overwhelming. Despite the fact that there was a failure to advertise the sessions until a week before their commencement, fifty three teachers applied to attend. Unfortunately, as the venue consisted of a limited number of computers, only twenty places were available. At the time of writing this account, two of the three sessions have taken place. During the first session, it became apparent that the teachers attending the session had varying degrees of computer skills. It was later noted in my online journal how I had been torn between helping those who were having difficulties, and occupying those who were ready to move on. I also noted that I intended to enlist the help of some ‚Äėexperts‚Äô by inviting some Primary seven pupils to come along to the two remaining sessions. This proved to be a very popular decision for both teachers (the learners) and pupils (the instructors).

    Maryam put a post about the experience on her blog:

    ¬†…. Then we had went back upstairs and we waited for all the teachers to come. Then when they had all came we started our presentations. Anna and Sophie went first. Then me and Darcie but we had sort of made a muck up of it! Then after we had went around helping the teachers.

    THAT WAS THE WEIRD BIT!

    I‚Äôve never helped a teacher and it was a bit embarrasing going up to them and saying, ‚ÄĚDo you need any help?‚ÄĚ I had helped a few people but the computers there are a bit slow and they keep cancelling things so it was a bit hard.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

    I can‚Äôt wait till next week if we are going back!‚Ä̬†

    In the Literature Review section of this report, Wenger (no date) was referred to. He claims that one of the characteristics crucial to developing a community of practice is that members engage in joint activities and discussions and help each other and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. Inviting the children to help out at the CPD sessions went some way to developing a community of practice in our Authority. The children saw themselves as the providers and this was welcomed by the teachers on the course.

    Two of them asked me to help place a comment on one of the pupil’s blogs:

    Sophie,
    Thank you very much for all your help tonight. We couldn’t have done it without you. You were extremely polite and helpful. Good luck at High School. Keep up the good work!
    Mrs F and Miss B

    Many of the teachers stated that they were going to return to school and ask if arrangements could be made for some of the pupils in my class to visit their own classes to arrange some peer to peer tuition sessions. The children obviously relished the thought of being able to be part of this. This has far reaching implications for the provision of future CPD courses on the use of the new web 2.0 tools with classes.

    Glow is¬†a¬†national schools intranet set to digitally linking Scotland’s 800,000 educators and pupils. There are no Glow mentors as yet in my own Authority. However, Mentors across Scotland have been exploring the potential of this tool to support their own learning and teaching. A wide range of ideas and uses have been identified so far. These include using Glow to:

    • support Primary 7 to S1 transition
    • demonstrate examples of good practice
    • showcase pupils‚Äô work for family and friends who are not Glow users
    • allow pupils to advertise school events
    • promote enterprising activities within school.

     As we await Glow being introduced to our schools, teachers could prepare by utilising the already freely available web 2.0 tools. All of the ideas for using Glow identified above are able to be implemented by using class blogs. For example, a few of last sessions primary 7 children still keep in touch via their blogs now that they have moved on to High School. Recently there was a post on Stuart’s blog. The target audience was obviously this session’s primary 7’s and he wanted to allay any misgivings they might have about next August’s transition to High School.  

    Learning and Teaching Scotland (no date) describes a mentor as an experienced person who provides guidance and support in a variety of ways to another person Рby acting as a role model, guide, tutor, coach or confidante. A Glow Mentor, it goes on to say, is someone who will provide support to staff and possibly pupils in learning how to make use of Glow. It also lists some of the attributes a Glow Mentor should have. A few of them are included here:

    • an enthusiasm for new ICT projects and a willingness to try things out
    • an awareness of the potential of online learning, communication and collaboration
    • an ability to provide everybody with the opportunity to see the creative potential of ICT
    • innovative with the technologies available¬†– no matter how limited
    • an ability to communicate knowledge and ideas to others.

    It could be argued that the primary 7 pupils who helped out at the CPD sessions displayed these very attributes.The director of technology at Learning and Teaching Scotland, Laurie O’Donnell, was interviewed by Times Online (31/3/2008).

    He is quoted as saying that Glow is, in effect, a gateway that provides the means by which education can take advantage of the digital age. A five-year project, costing ¬£37.5m, it is being rolled out local authority by local authority, school by school, until all the country’s pupils and teachers are linked to each other. Every pupil, he states, will have a homepage and an e-mail address. Chat rooms will develop for each subject, classes will be available in the form of video conferencing, teachers will be able to access lesson plans, homework will be submitted directly for marking, and parents will be able to talk to teachers by e-mail.The article goes on to say that, for O’Donnell, a former teacher and local authority adviser, the intranet, the development of pupil and teacher blogs, and the use of computer games as teaching aids is not so much a revolution as an evolution.

    It is clear from this statement that there is a place for web 2.0 tools to co-exist alongside Glow, and that there is a need for teachers to develop the necessary skills to make this ‚Äėevolution‚Äô happen.

    Another one of those 30 minute surfs!

    Marc was in my class last session and he was invited to come along to the Teacher’s learning to blog CPD¬†courses I’m giving at the moment¬†-that’s just one more thing to distract me from the dissertation time ………. but my¬†critical friend¬†Kim’s comments tell me differently:) .

    Marc got in touch through the class blog last weekend to let us know that he had been voted the 2nd most popular blog in the edubuzz domain in April 2008.

    Well done Marc!!

    Like the other volunteers, he really enjoyed the experience of teaching teachers !!

    …… Anyway back to the ‘drawing board’ … as opposed to the ‘dashboard’ :). I’ve reconstructed the conclusions section to add this bit:

    This case study was carried out in order to find an answer to the following question:

    Can Weblogs and Wikis and other associated emerging social software tools be used to create an effective on-line learning community?

    Having analysed the findings in relation to the three aims of the study and the review of literature and current thinking on the topic, clear conclusions can be drawn. In this particular study, there was a gradual fusion of the online and offline worlds of the classroom. When the study began, the distinction between the relatively casual online teacher/pupil connections contrasted sharply with the more formal offline classroom relationships. As the study period progressed, however, there was a continuing merging of the two spaces. The new online familiarity led to a greater awareness of pupil personal interests and concerns. This resulted in offline discussions occurring and eventual changes to the delivery and content of the familiar classroom curriculum. The children’s informal online voices began to have a direct influence on what was to be included in their more formal offline learning programme.  

    I’d better go …. that clock is still clicking!!!!!

    Distracted From The Studying …. Again

    ¬†Every so often (well, every 20 mins or so!) I take a break from the hard work of the dissertation to just ‘surf the net’ (the surfing usually lasts for¬†at least¬†30 mins each time ….. no wonder I’m way behind schedule!).

    Just a moment ago, I noticed a new post on Maryam’s blog about yesterday’s Teacher Blogging CPD course I’ve been blogging about. It really sums up the situation well ūüôā

    weemaryams.png

    ¬†“Yesterday Me,Anna,Sophie,Darcie,Rebecca and Ainsley had went to this place in Camelon to teach teachers who to use blogs.It was really fun! Though it was a little weird teaching teachers.But anyway it was still fun.

    First we had went to the little café place.We had a scone,some biscuits and tea.The scones rocked!We got to put jam on them or butter.The tea was REALLY hot and my tongue went firey red.Aghhh!

    Then we had went back upstairs and we waited for all the teachers to come.Then when they had all came we started our presantations.Anna and Sophie went first.Then me and Darcie but we had sort of made a muck up of it!Then after we had went around helping the teachers.

    THAT WAS THE WEIRD BIT!

    I‚Äôve never helped a teacher and it was a bit emmbarrasing going up to them and saying, ‚ÄĚDo you need any help?‚ÄĚI had helped a few people but the computers there are a bit slow and they keep canceling things so it was a bit hard.Then after the teachers had went back and we got everything back in Mrs Vass‚Äôs Car.Mrs Brown had took some people and dropped them off at there homes.Mrs Vass took me,Anna,Rebecca and Darcie.It was really funny!

    I can‚Äôt wait till next week if we are going back!”

    Thanks Maryam .. and of course you’re coming back next week ….. how on earth would I manage it without you all ūüôā

    Blogging IS Child's Play!

    I’m indebted to¬†Primary 7V for their input at the after school CPD course on ‘Blogging with Classes’. I could not have managed without their help – they were real stars. The teachers attending the course had¬†1 question.¬†it was¬†¬†¬†¬†….. ‘¬†Can these children¬†come back next week. They¬†are so helpful!’

    The primary 7 pupils loved it also –¬†¬†they had 2 questions:

    Question 1 ‘That was great – can we come back¬†next week?’

    Question 2 ‘The scones were brilliant …. are there any left?’

    The answer to question one – ‘YES!’

    The answer to question two – ‘No, sorry, but next week we’ll be sure to sneak some extra scones up to the CPD room and let you all have a ‘scone break’ as often as you like ūüôā

    Here’s¬†some pictures taken by the p7v photographers:

    The Conclusions – A Work in Progress

    I’ve placed this draft on here because I’m hoping that¬†by publishing it to the WWW, I’ll be¬†forced in to correcting all the ‘rubbish bits’! I’m still having those sick panicky feelings that I’m not going to meet that looming deadline ūüôĀ

    Countdown To Dissertation Deadline!
    No ‘imagined’? audience is¬†really expected to plough their way through this post ūüôā

    • This study set out to investigate whether weblogs and wikis and other emerging social software tools can be used to create an effective on-line learning community.
    • Much of the current thinking in the review of the literature suggests that it is possible to draw on the online communication skills already being developed in pupils’ lives outside of school. The literature also proposes that, as blogs and wikis are not unlike the new media tools currently being used by young people today, these media could potentially be adapted by schools to allow e-learning to occur successfully.

    Aim 1 – investigation of the useful features, and barriers, when using blogs and wikis in a supportive online environment

    Useful Features

    • The findings of this case study illustrate that all the children were able to manage the blogs and wikis easily. The evidence showed that they were all capable of writing posts and uploading pictures. It was also relatively simple to set the tools up in such a way that regular notification of all new activity on the blogs and wikis was received. This had been an important consideration when originally creating the class network.
    • ¬†Each pupil personalised their blogs by choosing their own individual look and theme. All of them successfully created avatars and, in the case of the boys especially, the importance of the inclusion of pictures and videos in their posts was very apparent. The children very quickly established the different uses for the blogs and wikis. The blogs being used for reflections, thoughts, short pieces of writings and uploading pictures, and the wikis for more extended pieces of writing, such as imaginative stories ‚Äď usually updated over an extended period of time.

    Barriers

    • ¬†Although the literature reveals that there are similarities between blogs and the social software sites already familiar to the children, there are important differences in commenting functions. Rather than reply to a comment on their posts, the children commented on the homepage of the comment author (this is how it would be done in a bebo site).¬†¬†
    • The literature offers conflicting advice about protecting children online. Whereas Byron (2008) advises the use of filters to protect children from accessing inappropriate material on the internet, Green and Hannon‚Äôs (2007) research suggests that banning and filtering may not be the most effective safeguard. There was understandable frustration felt by the boys in this case study when they were not able to take part in a discussion about football because of the authority‚Äôs filtering system. The children often approached the subject in class during the study and were perplexed by the decision to control what they can and cannot access at school.
    • Valentine et al (2005) report the reluctance of teachers to set homework based on computers because of concerns about digital divides between those children who have access to them at home and those who do not. In this study, there were two children who did not have home access. It was decided that it was not a problem, however, because they regularly visited relatives who do have access.
    • As mentioned previously in this section, new posts were easily located via a feed reader. Similar access to a reader was provided for the children. None of them used this, however, so any new posts had to be shared by directing the children‚Äôs attention to them in the offline classroom environment.

     Aim 2 РTo guide and monitor progress Guiding the progressDuring the case study period, progress was guided both online and offline.

    When reviewing the literature prior to the commencement of this case study, Lafferty (2004) was quoted:     

    To develop an online community requires a more student-centred approach with the tutor transforming into a facilitator from ‚Äôsage on the stage‚Äô to ‚Äėguide on the side‚Äô.

    • It was decided to adopt such an approach and pupils were left free to choose the content of their blog posts and wiki writing. Guidance was provided through providing a sense of online audience by submitting comments on the children‚Äôs posts regularly. Offline, new interesting posts were shared with the children. The findings show that this had the effect of influencing others to add new blog posts on their own blogs ‚Äď often on the same subject.

    Monitoring the progress:

    • Current thinking regarding the safety of young people on the internet has been referred to earlier in this section. Although new posts and comments were carefully monitored during the study period, there was one unfortunate incident that led to the decision to transfer the children‚Äôs blogs from learnerblogs to edublogs . Edublogs chose to have all new blogs, including pupil blogs, hosted at edublogs. It was made clear that all existing learnerblogs could, if chosen, remain where they were. Around the time of this announcement, however, spam comments began to appear on a few of the children‚Äôs blogs. Email alerts usually ensured that these were deleted promptly. On one particular occasion, though, one was noticed by a pupil in her comment moderation queue when she logged in to her blog. Unfortunately, it contained very inappropriate content. The incident occurred during a weekend and the pupil made the correct decision to leave a comment on the class blog asking for advice. It was thought unsafe to leave the blogs in the now (seemingly) unprotected learnerblog domain and they were transferred to edublogs. It was a relatively straightforward task ‚Äď with the help of the primary 7 pupils.

     Aim 3 РTo evaluate motivation, as well as formal and informal learning

    Motivation:

    • The findings illustrated how the move from learnerblogs to edublogs renewed the children‚Äôs motivation to ‚Äėdesign and furnish‚Äô their new web pages.¬† Although the move to edublogs was unplanned and did involve a degree of extra work, it provided a reminder of the level of importance that children place on attaining ‚Äėownership‚Äô of online spaces.
    • The findings also demonstrated the distinct difference in the way the girls and boys used their blogs. The number of number of ‚Äėinvitational‚Äô, ‚Äėexperiential‚Äô and ‚Äėreflective‚Äô posts made by the girls far exceeded those made by the boys. The Times Online article (2008) referred to in the literature review confirms that this same trend is mirrored in studies both in America and the UK.
    • A further observation in the online journal, describes how some of the boys in the study demonstrated their enthusiasm at the local authority‚Äôs latest ICT fair. Twelve children volunteered to come along to the after school event ‚Äď seven boys and five girls. The boys, especially, took great pleasure in describing how we use web 2.0 tools in all our learning and it ¬†was apparent that afternoon just how much they¬†valued the type of learning taking place.
    • Another demonstration of how the blogs provide motivation for the boys in the class is expressed in a third journal entry and was contributed by my sceptical friend. Mrs H takes the class twice a week for French lessons. After one particular lesson, I returned to find her very excited about¬†our use of blogging. She explained that the children had been lethargic about French lessons in general, and mentioned to them that it might be a good idea to video the event and include it in the class blog.¬† She had not anticipated the high level of motivation that resulted from this suggestion. Much has been written about the importance of audience. Stern (2007), for example, found that the young people in her study concerned themselves simultaneously with how they appeared to themselves and to their audiences. She explains that, although this process is not unique to online presentation, the deliberate nature of the construction magnifies the experience.

    Formal and Informal Learning:

    • Green and Hannon (2007) state that any learning that is loosely organised and happens outside the confines of the school gates is usually defined as informal learning. In this part of the conclusion section, therefore, any learning that took place in the classroom as a direct result of the children‚Äôs exposure to the blogs and wikis and associated web 2:0 tools will be referred to as formal learning. Learning that took place outwith the boundaries of the classroom will be referred to as informal learning.

    Formal Learning:

    • The findings demonstrate that sharing the entries from the blogs and wikis in the offline environment of the classroom had a direct influence on the teaching and learning taking place. After her involvement in the dinosaur project, Marsh (2007) proposed that by enabling children to create blogs based on their own interest, valuable learning opportunities might be developed. This was certainly the case during this particular research period. The obvious interest shown by the children‚Äôs responses to Nina‚Äôs ‚ÄėWorld of Work‚Äô post, for example, opened up superb opportunities to involve the children in activities such as learning interview techniques and thinking about the consequences of asking¬† open and closed questions.
    • Sharing the stories that the children wrote on their wikis also provided ideal opportunities for formal learning to occur. Where previously, the children hand wrote their class stories, then peer assessed them using the formative assessment approach of providing the author with ‚Äėtwo stars and a wish‚Äô, these stories were able to be shared on the whiteboard for all the class to enjoy. The stories were written at home and were read in instalments and email messages are received whenever a wiki entry is updated. It is clear that the children often go home and improve parts of their stories after having heard them read aloud in class. Bethany‚Äôs ‚ÄėLocked in the Art Room‚Äô adventure was the first story to include class members as participants in the escapade. The children in Bethany‚Äôs story got to visit the places in each others‚Äô art pictures. It was obvious that Bethany had read these children‚Äôs blog posts about their hobbies/aspirations, etc. and had incorporated this information into the story. An important lesson regarding copyright was also learned as a result of the sharing of these stories. We‚Äôd had discussions about copyright issues but it was evident that the children were finding the concept difficult to grasp. When other children began to closely mimic Bethany‚Äôs storyline, however, she publicised her objections by adding a very large copyright announcement to the end of that tale and any subsequent fictional writing on her wiki.

    Informal Learning:

    • Buckingham (2008) argues that through using the new media, young people are learning primarily by means of discovery, experimentation, and play, rather than by following external instructions and directions. The findings show that the boys in the class were more interested in uploading pictures and videos than in writing blog posts. Andrew‚Äôs blog illustrates this point well. I left a comment on one of his ‚Äėpicture only‚Äô posts inviting him to provide more information about why he chose that particular car picture to upload to his blog. Weeks later he received comment replying to my request. The comment is included here:

    ¬† Hi Andrew & Mrs V,I‚Äôd like to answer your question – ‚ÄėWhy did you choose that one for your blog?‚Äô Answer: Because it‚Äôs a brilliant picture! Seriously though, thanks Andrew for your interest in my car artwork. I‚Äôve been looking at your school blog sites and it‚Äôs good to see that you‚Äôre learning about the internet as it can teach you a lot about drawing and how to render images. Feel free to ask any questions or use other images from my website. Hopefully there will be some newer work on there in the next few months so check back now and then!I get my images for reference from www.seriouswheels.com which I think you may have found already looking at your other car pictures. (Mrs V: I‚Äôve used it for a while and I pretty sure it‚Äôs a ‚Äôsafe‚Äô site.)Keep up the good blogging!
    Phil

    • This comment provided a new insight into to the boys‚Äô fascination with images. In her investigation of young people‚Äôs use of social media, Stern (2007) uncovered an explanation for the motives for including artwork and images in their blog pages. In the literature review, she was noted as arguing that the main audience for their blogs was the authors themselves and that they were self reflecting as they tested out different versions of their current and possible identities. She also maintains, however, that they were continually testing out other audiences too, and that they were hungry for peer approval. This argument provides an explanation for the distinct differences in the way the two groups in this study used their blogs.
    • The findings show that during the case study period, the boys and girls posted an equal number of informative posts. These were posts containing information about schoolwork. Prior to the commencement of study period, the children were always reminded that they had the choice of adding schoolwork examples to their blogs. As the study progressed, however, no reference was made to this option and these types of posts dwindled. As I took on the role of facilitator and became the ‚Äėguide on the side‚Äô (Lafferty, 2004), the two groups went off in different directions. The evidence shows that the girls tended to write about themselves and the boys uploaded their images. It‚Äôs worth noting here, too, that the findings section reveals that the girls had a role model in the Australian pupil who constantly encouraged them through her comments to add more personal details about themselves. The boys had no such role model.
    • It is also perhaps worth noting here that last sessions Primary 7 children still have access to their blogs now that they have moved on to High School. Although there have been the occasional post on these blogs, one boy in particular has updated his regularly. There have also been occasional comments left by him on the class blog. As stated in the Rationale section of this report, last year‚Äôs blogs were set up with the help of the member of another Authority. Marc‚Äôs most recent comment was to inform that he has been voted as the second most popular blog in that Authority. The comment he received is included here:

    Hi Marc, this is just to let you know that last month, April 08, your home page was the second most popular entry page on edubuzz.org, with 2571 visits.

    You must have quite a fan club.

    Well done, I look forward to hearing more about your days at High School.

    David

    • In the review of the literature, Heppell (2007) refers to the primary school child who led an online debate about badgers with much older PhD graduates, and explains that it was not possible to tell that she was so young in that online environment. Salmon (2006) also states how, when using these new media, face-to-face identities become less important and that the usual discriminators such as race, age and gender become less apparent. Owen et al (2006) also refer to opportunities social software offers for crossing boundaries and remind us that learners are now able to join groups in which age, pre-existing knowledge, gender or location are no longer an apparent barrier.
    • It is obvious from Marc‚Äôs reaction to the news that his blog is so popular that he had no idea of the scope of his audience. It re-emphasises the views of Stern (2007) who stresses that knowing that their personal sites are publicly accessible does not lead most young people to envisage a broad audience for their online works. The findings section demonstrated that the ability to envisage a broad audience was also out of the scope of the children involved in this case study. The following extract describes the children‚Äôs reaction to a comment left by a previous teacher at our school on one of the children‚Äôs individual blogs:
    • ¬† ¬†The third adult comment resulted in much excitement. The children were unexpectedly bewildered by it, and had difficulty coming to terms with how the blogs were discovered by this teacher. Although all the children were aware of search engines, and had personal experience of using them, they still could not quite grasp how this visitor had stumbled upon one of their blogs. Visiting children, on the other hand, did not surprise them at all.
    • Like Marc, they appeared to have had no real conception of what it means to publish to the ‚Äėworld wide web‚Äô. Their perceived audience was themselves and their peers. In the findings section there is even a description of Anna‚Äôs embarrassment when her mum left a comment ‚Äď that comment is still awaiting moderation.
    • The literature review reveals that there is growing emphasis on the need to support young people, not only to acquire knowledge and information, but also to develop the resources and skills necessary to engage with social and technical change (Owen et al, 2006). They go on to say that it is in the technological arena that we are witnessing the rapid proliferation of technologies that can lead to the creation of communities and resources in which individuals come together to learn and¬†collaborate. They believe that this offers significant potential for the development of new approaches to education.
    • They go on to say that there are also changes in our understanding of practices of creativity and innovation ‚Äď from the idea of the isolated individual ‚Äėgenius‚Äô to the concept of ‚Äėcommunities of practice‚Äô, where reflection and feedback are important collaborative processes.
    • They ask whether it is possible to draw on the activities emerging through social software to create learning communities that offer young people personalised, collaborative learning experiences such as those that are already emerging in the world outside the school gates. They remind us that children and young people are increasingly becoming authors of blogs, and that research is only now beginning to catch up with these activities.

            

     

    Bad News and Good News!

    I’ll start with the good news ūüôā

    On Wednesday I provided my very first ever CPD twighlight course. I¬†survived – everyone says they’re coming back next week for ’round 2′ and 16 Falkirk teachers now have a new class blog. I learned later that 53 teachers had actually signed up to come along – we’ve arranged for some teachers¬†from the same school to double up at a computer next week so that more will be able to attend. ¬†

    It was a wee bit stressful when some of the¬†more ‘internet savvy’¬†teachers moved along at a¬†quicker pace. I found myself ‘differentiating’¬†(a¬†term from my teacher training days). I ended up spreading myself¬† thinly as I spent the¬†last 45 minutes of the session¬†2 hour session helping those who were ‘stuck’ and occupying those who were asking questions like:

    ‘We’re finished … what will we do now?”

    …. And then I had my brainwave – why would I want to do all that by myself when I have¬†a fantastic resource at my fingertips?. P7V are all delighted to be given the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise with these teachers who are ready to¬†move on. Next Wednesday, 4 children (it’s all I can fit in my car!) will be chosen to come along to the CPD session to introduce those who are ready to learn about Animoto and Voki¬†(choosing will be difficult – 22 children will be gutted that they were not allowed to go).¬†¬†

    The¬†following week will be my¬†3rd and final ‘introduction to blogging’ course. I¬†intend to¬†ask¬†the P7’s to debate their own favourite web 2.0 tool. The winners can then come along to the twighlight course and present their reasons for choosing that particular tool. ¬†

    Now for the bad news ūüôĀ¬†¬†¬†

    The preparation for these twighlight courses has meant that I’ve been neglecting my chartered teacher dissertation … and the deadline is looming. I think I’m going to have to add one of these ‘countdown’ clocks in my sidebar to scare me in to action!!¬†

    Blogging CPD – Presentation 2

    Moderating comments and writing the first post:

    Sometimes You Just Can't Win :)

    Just when I had the CPD presentation all worked out I received an email from edublogs!

    It turns out they’re making lots of changes. Their sign up page is changing from this …

    old-look.png

    to this …..

    new-look.png

    …. and apparently there’s lots more changes on the horizon.

    As well as having a fancy¬†powerpoint presentation¬†for my first attempt at providing CPD (along with a printed handout), I¬†also managed to produce something on google docs. I was really chuffed at keeping up with the new technologies – but it seems that what I’ve produced is already out of date¬†ūüôā

    Blogging is Child's Play!

    In a previous post I mentioned that I was to be involved in some local CPD courses about ‘blogging with classes’. It turns out that some of the teachers in my own school are coming along.

    Mrs N is one of those teachers and she is also going to be my stage partner next session. She gave me me this advice:

    ¬†¬†¬† “Can you¬†keep it simple … because if I’m going to be expected to blog with the P 7’s, I need ‘step by step’ advice. I’m¬†¬†¬† glad¬†it’s someone I know organising the cpd session because it means that I can ask lots of questions if I get lost.”

    I’ve been on ICT courses like that …… minutes into it I wanted to say “No – Rewind!”

    Well, this one is for Mrs N …. I hope it’s OK for John too ūüôā

    He invited me to join the Open Source CPD wiki.¬†I’m providing¬†3 two hour after school CPD courses. Here’s what¬†I’ve¬†come up with¬†so far.

    Let me know what you think ūüôā

    More on Gender Issues

    fair2.jpg

    On Thursday of this week Primary 7V represented Carronshore P.S. at the annual Ict Fair in Carronvale House, Larbert. Twelve children volunteered to attend the after school event. There were 5 girl volunteers and 7 boys. They all had a super time. The boys took great pleasure in describing how we use web 2.0 tools in all our learning. They may not have contributed as much to their individual blogs as the girls did during the 3 month study, but it was apparent that afternoon just how much they valued the type of learning taking place. They spoke confidently about:

    • our involvement with the Voices of the World etwinning project
    • our camera club
    • the fun to be had creating avatars
    • the use of our mp3 recorders to create podcasts to involve parents and grandparents
    • the interviews with people from the World of Work and the recording of these using our digital video camera
    • our use of photostory3, photobucket, animoto

    ……. and loads more ūüôā

    They were keen to be the cameramen for the event, too, as can be seen below!

    Draft Findings – and a new blog title, too :)

    ¬†It’s only a draft …. and I condensed 3500 words into this short post so probably didn’t include the important bits¬†either ūüôā

    The steps in the research involved investigating the useful features and barriers when using blogs and wikis and other emerging social software in a supportive online environment. Progress was then monitored. Motivation and formal and informal learning was evaluated. 

    Section 1

    The range and depth of topics¬† –

     The blog posts were grouped into five different categories and a coding framework was devised.

    The five categories were:        

    • Transient ¬†‚Äď very short posts containing mainly pictures, or very short miscellaneous statements¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
    • Informative ‚Äď posts containing information about what was learned either at school or elsewhere¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
    • Invitational ‚Äď posts containing some information on a topic and inviting others to respond¬† (these posts were also either experiential or reflective)¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
    • Experiential ‚Äď posts containing information about the pupils (e.g. ‚Äėlet me tell you about me‚Äô)¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
    • Reflective ‚Äď longer posts that contain evidence of deeper thinking about a particular topic.

    Table 1

    Gender

    transient Informative  invitational experiential reflective
    boy 27 20 2 8 2
    girl 17 20 18 83 36

    The posts covered a wide range of topics and in order to find the most popular, the invitational, experiential and reflective posts were scrutinised. The decision was made not to include the transient and informative posts in the investigation, as it was apparent during the initial gathering of information that the subject matter included in these posts consisted mainly of shallow content. Once the popular topics had been identified, it was noticed that particular themes were recurring in a number of different children’s blogs.

    Recurrent themes included:

    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Jobs / choices¬†¬† 19
    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Hobbies¬†¬† 12
    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Favourite music 9
    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Book reviews 8
    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Miss L 6

    The fact that these themes were recurring led to further examination. There is evidence that one pupil would write a reflective post and, rather than leave a comment, the children tended to replicate the introduction of the post, then personalise it with their own viewpoint.

         

    Section 2

    In this section, a narrower field of focus is established. It provides a descriptive account and analysis of the complex issues involved in the unfolding events. Three topics were analysed:

    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Online Identities / gender issues
    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The relationship between the online / offline environments
    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Any resulting impact on teaching and learning

    Online Identities

    Jackie referred to the children’s use of WeeMees. It was apparent that the children had great fun designing these characters for their blogs.

    In an informal discussion with Courtney, she explained how important it was for her to find strategies to improve her spelling in her new online environment. She had been identified as having difficulties with spelling, but stated:

    ¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄėI don‚Äôt really care about my spelling in a jotter because only me and the teacher sees it, but when I write on my blog, I don‚Äôt want a showing up when the likes of Nadine from the AllStars reads my stuff. She‚Äôs really good at spelling.‚Äô

    When Miss L (a visiting student teacher) expressed a desire to set up a blog, the children were keen to help her to create an online identity by showing her the various themes on offer, and by helping her create a blog avatar. They also helped her to settle in to her new ‚Äėhome‚Äô by leaving comments such as Rebecca‚Äôs:

    ‚ÄėHEY Miss Law congrats on getting your new blog im sure youll luv it !!!it is a bit complicated at first .Jaydean also says heyah !! well al luv having u in the class‚Äô

    Early on in the study, I had noted in my online journal that two of the boys had been very excited after having received a comment from a boy in an Inverness school telling them about his football blog. When we followed the link, it was difficult to understand the posts on the blog because they consisted mainly of large black squares accompanied by a very short sentence. We later discovered that the black squares contained video clips of football games. The host video site is blocked by our school authority and the boys were very disappointed that they were unable to enter into any resulting debate. It was suggested that they could join in at home, but the consensus was that they had wanted to take part in school as a group.

    There were a number of occasions, however, when boys did add comments and posts from home. A comment left by Russell led to a discussion about the relationship between the online and offline environments. Russell commented on Miss Law’s blog:

    ‚ÄėYOU WILL BE PERFECTLY ABLE TO TEACH ANY YEAR BECAUSE AFTER TEACHING ALL OF 7V I THINK EVERYONE AGREES WITH ME BY SAYING YOU ARE A FANTASTIC TEACHER. ‚Äô

    The Online / Offline Environment

    When the comment was noticed on Miss Law’s blog, a reflective post was added to my online journal. Russell would not have felt it appropriate to say something like that in the class, and the comment was not mentioned in class.

    During a class discussion about the subject, the children were asked if they thought that the blogs had impacted on their own offline relationships with their peers. Typical examples of the children’s responses are cited here:

    • ‚ÄėYes, because in our own blogs we‚Äôre allowed to write about what we want to write, so we‚Äôve got to know each other better.‚Äô
    • ¬†‚ÄėSome people in class don‚Äôt talk to me very much, but I can read their blog and find out more about them‚Äô
    • ‚ÄėI feel that I know my close friends even more now because of what they write on their blog‚Äô¬†

    A further example of an instance when the online / offline environment interconnected was when blog posts and wiki writing considered worthy of note was shared during class time. This tended to happen as a result of children coming in to class and announcing that they had posted / written something that they wanted to share with an audience.

    Resulting Impact on Teaching and Learning

    The desire to share what they had written with their classmates impacted on the delivery of the curriculum. Stories the children had written were shared via the interactive whiteboard. These showings resulted in class discussions about what makes a good story, directing the children’s attention to nice use of descriptive words, etc.

    Other ways in which the blogs and wikis directly influenced teaching and learning came about after the sharing of blog posts in class. For example:

    • ¬†As the pupils began adding more posts about what jobs they would like to choose, we began to seek out people from the ‚ÄėWorld of Work‚Äô to come in to class and tell us about their job. We interviewed them and posted the videos on the class blog
    • ¬†Some of the children shared their love of reading books in their blog posts. As a direct result of those posts, a book club was formed. The club was run by the pupils themselves and they shared their favourite books on ‚Äėlibrary loan‚Äô basis and discussed their favourites.
    • During her placement, Miss Law agreed to set up an art club. This arose because a number of the children had written blog posts about their love of drawing

    The evidence shows that the posts and comments on the children‚Äôs individual blogs and the stories written on their wikis did indeed change the offline context of the classroom. The curriculum changed to one that was more ‚Äėchild led‚Äô

    Condensed draft Conclusion and Implication sections to follow …….

     

    Life Before RSS?

    The Edublogger post about using RSS¬†appeared recently and it got me thinking about how I used to track the blogposts of my previous class bloggers. These blogs were set up with the help of David Gilmour from East Lothian Council. I had no knowledge of RSS (hadn’t even heard of it!), but I soon discovered that it was possible to track the children’s new blog posts by visiting certain East Lothian blogs. The sidebar would show information about the latest ‘edubuzz’ posts … just like the example below.

    Latest eduBuzz Posts

  • – Posted to eduBuzz.org by David Gilmour
  • – Posted to PrestonLodge.net – Sports by Mr.Bennion
  • – Posted to Today @ PrestonLodge.net by Mrs. Cormack
  • – Posted to Stuart\’s Blog by Stuart
  • – Posted to Alan Coady’s Musical Blog by Alan Coady
  • – Posted to Don Ledingham’s Learning Log by Don Ledingham
  • – Posted to Don Ledingham’s Learning Log by Don Ledingham
  • – Posted to Bill’s Outdoor Learning Page by Bill
  • – Posted to Modern Languages at North Berwick High School by Shirley Watt
  • – Posted to Alan Coady’s Musical Blog by Alan Coady
  • Happily, I’ve now discovered how to use ‘Google Reader’ and today I found that Stuart – 4th from the top on the list above – from last year’s P7 class decided to put on a new blogpost (10 months since his last one!). You can read his post here:

    ‘Sorry, not been in touch much because couldn‚Äôt find a computer to get on. LHS is the best high school ever people talk about getting your head getting flushed down the lavvy isn‚Äôt even true.The work isn‚Äôt too hard and you get 2 go up the street 4 u lunch and get anything you want up there. Me and Marc were in¬†a talent show but him and Iona never won and I never won so boohoo. High school is really great but some subjects like french, english/language, R.M.E, H.F.T (writing part) are all a little boring. P.E is brilliant but if you pick it 4 2¬†nd year it isn‚Äôt always physical sometimes it can be writing, Tech is excellent too but same again it‚Äôs not always practical work some is writing. High school isn‚Äôt scary but it is FUN. You¬†barely even get lost because after a few weeks you know your way round but¬†I will admit sometimes it will just slip your mind where your going.¬†And you‚Äôll need 2 get use 2 not skiving out class saying yuo need the toilet only sometimes if you are really bursting or if you have got a toilet pass which lets you go to the loo any time you can only get one if you have a medical problem.¬†And you don‚Äôt get golden time up here. HUB cards are used to buy food at the hub but if you lose it you need 2 go 2 the front office and ask 4 a temperary¬†card until they order a new one. Mine broke at first then I got a new one and I lost that one. I am absolutely tired so am going 2 ma bed cause it‚Äôs¬†5 in the morning and am at a sleepover so catch you later.’

    I really appreciate Stuart’s post …. the incentive for writing the post is obviously to give a message to the present P7 class that they shouldn’t fear moving on to High School. I’ll make a point of sharing the post with the intended audience as soon as we return to school!

    Meanwhile –¬†what is Feedburner?? ….. and what is twitter about?? ūüôā

    Copyright Issues

    I came across this video via John (I’m not sure why some people’s delicious entries end up in my ‘google reader’ – but I’m glad they do!). It’s a pity I won’t be able to show it in school because youtube is blocked.

    I’ve never fully understood copyright¬†but I¬†was a bit concerned that some children were getting pictures from google images for their blogs. I tried to explain about copyright, but the children were indignant that if it was on the internet anyway, then anyone could freely use it.

    Since then, however, little ‘copyright’¬†messages have been appearing on some of their stories on their wikis. For an¬†example, click on this icon weebethanyr.png

    If someone writes a story at home on their wiki, they’re usually keen for it to be shared in school. We often find some time to do this on the whiteboard (it’s also a great way to instigate discussions about what makes a great piece of writing ….. sometimes we’ll use ‘2 stars and a wish’ to peer assess the writing. The children will often voluntarily go back and edit their stories as a result of these conversations).

    The story in the link above is an imaginary tale involving lots of people in the class.¬†This inspired¬†some more children to write imaginatively about their friends, too. One particular story, however, was very similar in content to the original. This¬†led to discussions about just how much of someone else’s work you should be allowed to ‘borrow’ from.

    One of the¬†useful things about a wiki is that it’s possible to look at the history of edits made.¬†I receive emails¬†whenever a wiki is edited, and it made me smile when I saw the changes made to the original story above. As she went on to finish and edit her story, she made some changes to her ‘copyright’ message.

    You can follow how the story progresses here ūüôā

    After we had explained yet again sophie said that she was dreaming of what it would be like to draw pictures of famous people and so she ended up drawing the queen. We spent a little more time with the queen and then ran to the final picture which was the one i drew.

    Copyright!

    The story was continued at a later date: weebethanyr.png

    I checked my watch to find it was almost midnight yet none of us felt tired at all!

    “Guys,” I said, ” Its¬†almost midnight!”

    “Wow!” they all replied including our new-found, famous friends. Just then one of the city clocks struck midnight and the castle from DisneyWorld appeared with Cinderella¬†,and Johnny Depp¬†with the balloon,¬†at the front of it looking for her glass slipper. At the other side of us Nina’s elephant and African sunst appeared. Everywhere around us was covered with the pictures we drew

    copyright!

    ……. And Finally:¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† weebethanyr.png

    Nina wailed for the second time, “Oh no! This time we really are locked in and we don’t know who will help us!” Just then Miss Law came running to the door with a key to let us all out.

    “I am back and with the key!” she shouted as she turned the key in the lock.

    We all smiled as the door opened and we walked out of the art room. “That was some adventure!” Anna commented.

    “What was?” Miss Law asked, “You can’t have had a big adventure when you have only been in¬†there for 10 minutes!” We were all¬†absolutley speachless once we found out time had hardly changed but i managed to say with a wink, “You’d be surprised Miss Law. You’d be surprised!”

    THE END!

    COPYRIGHT!

    She should be really proud of her great story. I think¬†she’s learned lots about the importance of copyright …… and she’s sending a very clear message out to others,¬†too¬†ūüôā

    Children's Voices

    Miss Law was in our class for almost 10 weeks. In that time, she set up a blog so that she could be part of our set up (community?).

    miss-law-wee.jpg 

    In one of her posts she wrote:

    ‘I‚Äôve just looked back at my first ever blog post and I remembered how unsure I felt when I was writing it! It‚Äôs really strange because I had never thought of having a blog before and now I have one I enjoy writing on it.

    It’s strange to think that only a couple of months ago I was really nervous about knowing what to write and now I just write about anything I fancy.

    ¬†Does anyone else feel this way? That you used to be really unsure of what to write and now you‚Äôre not?’

    In a more recent post she wrote:

    ‘………Before joining 7V I would never have dreamed of having a blog but it‚Äôs been great. I know I haven‚Äôt written many posts, as I have not had the time, but I‚Äôve loved reading everyone elses. It has allowed me to get to know the class really well………’

    Yesterday, I asked the class If they thought that having their own blogs had helped them to get to know their own classmates better. 

    They gave permission for me to jot down some of their responses and add them on this blog.

    They said:

    • Yes, because in our own blogs we’re allowed to write about what we want to write, so we’ve got to know each other better
    • Some people in class don’t talk to me very much, but I can read their blog and find out more about them
    • I feel that I know my close friends even more now because of what they write on their blog

    The informal discussion touched on some other related issues.

    For example, we’ve been using a variety of wikis this session. How?

    • ¬†We’ve used wikispaces¬† to¬†work collaboratevely¬†with our¬†Australian friends (this project was started last session).
    • I’ve also used wikispaces in the past when I was involved in¬†the Photo-a-day project. It was when I was involved in this project that I was introduced to Wetpaint. I read recently that wetpaint is now ad-free for education and P7V have been experimenting with wetpaint
    • During this session, we’ve¬†also been using¬†Pbwiki¬†to ‘showcase’ our writing and to host our podcasts.

    Here’s the children’s views on our wiki use:

    • I like the PB wikis because I like when we read the stories that the people in our class¬†have written on there, and how good they are
    • You get to know what people’s thoughts and dreams are through their stories
    • I prefer our new wetpint wikis because there’s more opportunity for discussion there. It’s a whole class thing
    • Wetpaint is better, but it’s harder than pbwiki
    • Pbwiki is for writing and wetpaint is for discussion
    • In wetpaint I don’t get stuck on what to write about because I get to work with a partner
    • Pbwiki is good for fonts and smilies, but wetpaint is better for teaming up and for adding videos

    Please respond by commenting …..maybe the P7V’s¬†will take this opportunity¬†to use their voice too¬† ūüôā

    The Importance of an Audience

    blog5.gif

    Primary 7V always perform well in front of a live audience. Loads of examples such as this can be seen on our class blog.

    Mrs H takes the class twice a week for French lessons …… Mrs H has also been my ‘sceptical friend’ during this dissertation journey.¬†

    ¬†……… Not to be confused with my ‘critical friend’, Mrs P ūüôā

    Mrs H and I¬†share many views on teaching, but she’s¬†never quite got the ‘blogging thing’ …. until now. After her lesson with the class, I returned to find her very excited about¬†our use of blogging. Yesterday, I asked her to jot down her thoughts – and she’s allowed me to share them here.

    ‘The children, at this time in P7’ had been rather lethargic about French in general. Discussion of a ‘cafe’ afternoon wasn’t met with too much enthusiasm. However, when filming conversations between waiters and customers, and adding these to their class blog was mentioned, the interest levels rose considerably. Suddenly the children were volunteering to pair up with a partner and try out phrases. They were checking with vocabulary jotters and with me to ensure accuracy and pronunciation.

    The follow-up lession (the rehearsal)¬†was a delight – total co-operation and effort. The children were highly motivated by the ‘real life’ context, but also because their performance would be viewed by others – in a very wide context. I will definately intoduce filming to a lot more French lessons!’¬†¬†

    I think I need a new ‘sceptical friend’ …….. ūüôā

    Our Class Move to Edublogs

    [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.jumpcut.com/media/flash/jump.swf?id=EA8B6F9AFCC711DC9462000423CEF682&asset_type=movie&asset_id=EA8B6F9AFCC711DC9462000423CEF682&eb=1" width="306" height="243" wmode="transparent" /]

    I made the decision to move from learnerblogs to edublogs. This decision was made because I want the children’s blogs to¬†be safe,¬†but I also want¬†them to experience the freedom¬†required to keep their ‘motivation to blog’ going ……. there are lots of discussions about this at the moment.

    I copied the graphic below from the newly published Byron Report

    byron3.jpg

    Lots of mixed messages ūüôā

    We had some time in the computer room today (20 mins before P.E.). In that time, the children were able to activate the ‘Akismet Key’ to help prevent spam comments on their individual blogs.

    This was very simple to do. I had already activated the Akismet Key in the class blog by setting up a WordPress blog.

    I’ve now learned that the same ‘key’ can be used over and over again to protect the children’s own blogs from spam comments …. a great discovery for a ‘non-techy’ ūüôā

    Blogging CPD

    My local authority are now keen to promote blogging with pupils. I wrote about this in a previous post, and some recent events have indicated some ways that they intend to take this forward.

    1. Our ICT support team have been visiting some schools in order to make a video about good uses of ICT. On Tuesday of last week, it was my turn. I didn’t really know what to expect and, apart from looking out a ‘posh frock’, I didn’t have anything prepared. Malcolm and Jane turned up with some fancy looking cameras and asked me just to talk about my use of blogs and wikis with the class. I spoke for maybe 20 mins or so, referring to the blogs and wikis shown in the whiteboard beside me. It will all get edited down to about a 2 minute slot in the finished video. I’ve included most of what my ‘ramblings’ consisted of here:

    • I began by talking about our set up generally, referring to the main class blog and the various pages that take visitors to our individual blogs, a wikispace we shared with AllStars in Australia, our pbwikis and our links to the children from last year’s class
    • I explained that the class blog was where we posted general news about the things we’ve been getting up to, as well as a place to share what the pupils have been writing about in their individual blogs
    • This session, I’ve tried to give the children a sense of ownership over their blogs. I didn’t want to use them as an ICT time activity, where they’d be asked to write a post about what they’ve been up to. Instead, I wanted to give them a space where they could have a voice in a supported online environment
    • Safety is very important, a page containing our ‘blogging rules’ is embeded in each individual blog
    • The children have personalised their blogs by choosing their own themes and creating avatars using online sites such as weeworld¬†or voki
    • Using programmes such as photostory3¬†along with¬†sites such as photobucket can make their posts come alive! In the example below, the children are¬†reading from, or describing, their favourite books¬†
    • [kml_flashembed movie="http://i130.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid130.photobucket.com/albums/p258/carronshore/book1.flv" width="224" height="180" wmode="transparent" /]

    • Links with home are strengthened by using oportunities such as this one. The children took home their mp3’s and found an older person in their family to interview so that they could experience a sense of ‘the past’ before beginning our WW2 topic. In¬†an earlier topic on writing our autobiographies, the children interviewed parents about their early years
    • Learning has become more ‘child led’. For example, read this post to learn how the posts on the children’s individual blogs led us into our ‘world of work’ series of interviews. The children have been learning to devise ‘open questions’ for our visitors. There are also opportunities for follow-up report writing and thank-you letters
    • Miss Law was with is for almost 10 weeks and she summed up what blogging with the class it meant to her. She wrote:¬†Before joining 7V I would never have dreamed of having a blog but it‚Äôs been great. I know I haven‚Äôt written many posts, as I have not had the time, but I‚Äôve loved reading everyone elses. It has allowed me to get to know the class really well.

    ¬†………… and I could have went on… and on… and on ūüôā

    2. I’ve been asked to provide some CPD courses on blogging next month. There will be 3 twighlight sessions beginning on the 30th April. This is new territory for me, but I know there’s lots of help out there. For example, posts such as this one¬†will be very useful. The new Open Source CPD wiki set up by John will also be a great help … and a great resource for any interested teachers who sign up for the blogging sessions. I know there’s lots more out there, too (and if anyone has any advice … get in touch!)

    ūüôā

    Goodbye Learnerblogs …..

    Last weekend, I made the decision to move the class individual blogs away from learnerblogs over to edublogs. Recently there was an announcement in the edublogs support blog:

    ‘Here‚Äôs some pretty big news‚Ķ Edublogs.org is now open only for teachers but also for students of all descriptions.

    Previously we’ve hosted three other sites Рuniblogs.org, learnerblogs.org and eslblogs.org for students but we decided a few weeks ago that this is both overly complex and limits what teachers can do with their students through their blog on Edublogs.org.

    Uniblogs.org, Learnerblogs.org and Eslblogs.org will remain in operation indefinitely but we won‚Äôt be allowing new signups to them ……..”

    It may have been a coincidence, but around about the same time, the pupils’ learnerblogs started receiving some spam comments. I’d set the blogs up using the ‘gmail+’ trick described in this previous post. The comments get sent to my email address, and the children moderate them themselves. Last Friday, however, a comment appeared on the class blog from a pupil to say that an inappropriate comment was awaiting moderation. The conversations can be viewed here. The pupils know that I can also log in to their blogs as a co-administrator.

    ¬†I had just finished reading the terrible news¬†about Al Upton’s class blogs¬†when¬†all this was¬†taking place. I made a decision to close down¬†the pupil’s blog (at least I¬†copied and pasted all her posts before taking the ‘one way trip’!). I also erased another pupil’s blog where there had been a previous spam comment noticed. It was a rushed decision and the next morning I decided to create new edublogs for the pupils. This was quite a simple job using the new blog and user creator.

    Last Monday, we spent our computer time exporting all information from the learnerblogs accounts and importing it into the new edublogs accounts. It was a simple process and the children managed to do this themselves. They left a short goodbye message on their old blogs and provided a link to their new blogs.

    Our next job is to activate the ‘Akismet’ spam key required to deal with spam comments. I’ve had this installed in the class blog and have had over 1000 comments deleted as spam……. and I still need to¬†replace links on the class blog.

    The best things to come out of the experience was the fact that all the children made it quite clear how much the appreciate the fact that they have their own blog ūüôā

    Online Identities

    ¬†In a previous post, I wrote about the children’s online identities:-

    In her email to me, Jackie’s thoughts included:

    • ¬†the idea of¬†exploring the¬†area of¬†gendered representations of identity

    She was referring to the children‚Äôs use of ‚Äėweemees‚Äė to represent themselves.

    wee-adaml.png    wee-darrenm.png   weekierans.png   wee-fraserm.png

    weebethanyr.png    weeninam.png   weejaydeanc.png    wee-sophie.png

    This weekend I¬†came across¬†a book edited by David Buckingham entitled: Youth, Identity and Digital Media via this website. In the section Introducing Identity, David Buckingham adds his contribution. I’ve incuded ‘snipits’ here:

    • Identity is an ambiguous and slippery term. It has been used‚ÄĒand perhaps overused‚ÄĒin many different contexts and for many different purposes, particularly in recent years.
    • Susannah Stern‚Äôs discussion of young people‚Äôs online authorship of blogs and home pages suggests that this activity can provide important opportunities for self-reflection and self-realization, and for expressing some of the conflicts and crises that characterize this period. Some of the young people whom she discusses explicitly see adolescence as an ‚Äúin-between stage,‚ÄĚ in which they are consciously seeking future directions in their lives.
    • The extent to which all social interaction is a kind of performance.¬†……… The issue of performance is also very relevant to the ways in which young people construct identities, for example, via the use of avatars, e-mail signatures, IM nicknames, and (in a more elaborate way) in personal homepages and blogs.

    The children in p7v enjoyed creating vokis. Some have embeded them in their sidebars. I’ve included an example here.

    [kml_flashembed movie="http://vhss-a.oddcast.com/voki/voki_player.swf?doc=http%3A%2F%2Fvhss-d.oddcast.com%2Fphp%2Fvoki%2Fgetvoki%2Fchsm%3Dcb899af27745f54718f5743d8cf462c9%26sc%3D34031" width="150" height="200" wmode="transparent" /]

    Another example can be seen on Fraser’s Blog

    Below is an example of a 3D avatar some of the pupils have been playing around with.

    cheri123456

    More from David Buckingham’s contribution:

    • Rebekah Willett, for example, looks at how girls‚Äô online play with dressing up dolls raises questions about body image …
    • ¬†Sandra Weber and Claudia Mitchell also address questions of gender and ethnicity, looking at how the markers of positive identities can be quite subtly coded in young people‚Äôs online expressions……..¬†
    Conclusion
    • Simply keeping pace with the range of young people‚Äôs engagements with digital media is an increasingly daunting task.¬†¬†
    • Even so, our hope for this book is that the theme of identity will provide a useful lens through which to view particular aspects of young people‚Äôs relations with digital media more clearly.

    I believe that having the freedom to personalise their own blogs is an important motivational factor for the pupils in my class. Recently, I decided to move the children’s individual blogs away from ‘learnerblogs’ and over to ‘edublogs’. This was a safety decision (I’ll put on a post to explain the reasoning behind this decision soon!). I contemplated reducing their set roles from administrator to editor until I discovered that this would mean that they would no longer have access to the different themes available.

    Customising their own spaces has allowed them to share their online identity with their audience. Courtney recently posted to her new blog (she uses ‘text’ speech in her blog). I’ve included part of it here:

    ‘……I¬†would like to say soz to everyone who Read‚Äôs ma blog for not doin task a week but ma other pages are @ da side now not da top We have just moved blog so I‚Äôm a bit higglty pigglty write Now…………’

    Denying them the opportunity to put their own stamp on their new blogs was not an option ūüôā¬†

    Online / Offline Voices!

    Miss Law has been with us for almost 10 weeks. She added a post to her blog today. She said:

    This week was a really funny week. Wednesday was horrible and then Thursday was really strange as well. It reminded me of things when I was at school. I hope it made everyone realise how much effort is put into making each day at school as enjoyable as possible!

     I’ve just been on my google reader and Russell’s post made me laugh. If I knew how to put a link to it I would.

    Here’s the link to Russell’s blog post.. ¬†RUSSELL’S POST

    His post made me smile, too.

    The ‘horrible Wednesday’ referred to by Miss Law was one of those days that we’ve all experienced. Things had got out of hand in the classroom and they quickly deteriorated into a place where nobody wanted to be! Miss Law¬†had planned some¬†‘active learning’ activities and P7V were just not in the mood to ‘engage’.

    I interviened and devised the ‘strange Thursday’ mentioned in Miss Law’s post…..text books, silence, hands up to speak –¬†no voices allowed! It was a very strange and boring experience for all involved ūüôā

    By Friday, we had all agreed that this was not the way we wanted our class to be. We wanted to go back to the usual interactive classroom ethos.

    The moment that the agreement was reached, Russell’s first request was, ‘Can I go and post something on my blog?’- he doesn’t blog very often! ¬†He wrote

    celebrate good times come on!!! 

    YES!!!        We are back doing co-operative learning    YES!!!

    We were sitting right there in front of him …. but he chose to express this thought online via his blog.

    More reflection soon ūüôā

    Online Communities

    While researching for my Literature Review, I came across a copy of the Learning and Teaching¬†Scotland¬†¬†online magazine. The¬†Connected 10 Magazine¬†had a special feature which brought together 5 articles each focusing on different aspects of online communities. I¬†had come across¬†of the authors¬†in a previous Chartered Teacher module entitled ‘Introducing E-Learning, E-Teaching and E-Assessment’.

    The first one is an article by Dr Gilly Salmon.

    With colleagues, she has researched the key success factors in enabling happy and successful online communities of practice and has built a model of what to expect.

    5stage_model_.jpg

    Here’s her description of the model:

    The model has five stages, each of which acts as a ‘scaffold’ to the next. Individual access and the ability of participants to use the online environment are essential prerequisites for participation at stage one, at the base of the flights of steps. Stage two involves individual participants establishing their online identities and then finding others with whom to interact, a form of ‘online socialisation’. At stage three, participants give information and receive information freely. The success of communication depends on the establishment of common understandings at stages one and two. Up to and including stage three, a form of cooperation occurs, i.e. support for each person’s goals. At stage four, group discussions occur and the interaction becomes more collaborative and the knowledge generated more applied and constructed. Interaction for online knowledge construction gets to the heart of what most participants consider important. They feel intuitively that knowledge is not just about data or information but is much richer and broader and is linked with personal experience in complex ways. At stage five, participants look for more benefits from the system to help them achieve personal goals, explore how to integrate online working into other forms of learning and reflect on the learning processes.

    During the Chartered Teacher module, we were asked to evaluate where our own schools were on the model.

    Now, if I apply the same thinking and place our class online community on the model, we’re probably at stage 3? …… I’m referring to those pupils who choose to be actively involved in blogging.

    Dr Salmon goes on to say that:

    We find that everyone needs human support to take part successfully in online communities. I give the name ‘e-moderator’ to this person since, although some of the skills are the same as those of group facilitators, there are some new ones too. The e-moderator’s role in such rich and interactive environments is both rewarding and demanding!

    E-moderators need to give very explicit attention to enabling and promoting all aspects of online socialisation. To succeed in fully engaging the participants and promoting their active involvement, imaginative and creative images will be needed! Energies can to be harnessed towards the shared enterprise and purposefulness of the learning community. In a sense, e-moderators create a special little cultural experience belonging to this group at this time through discussion and negotiation.

    For the past 10 weeks or so, there’s been a 4th year B’ed student in class. Miss Law has had a lot of responsibility for the class (a fine job has been done, too!), and I’ve taken more of a ‘back seat’. On reflection, I think I’ve subconsciously become an e-moderator!

    • I’ve tried to make sure that there have been lots of posts made on Our class blog, and that many of these posts have linked to the children’s posts.
    • I also¬†created My ‘Learnerblog’¬†in an attempt to show by example ….. I find this difficult ūüôā
    • Recently, I also made use of a new edublogs facility by trialing our forums¬†section of the blog¬† …… I even got permission to become a supporter so that we can have more than one forum (I’ll find the time soon to get round to actually using this great facility!)
    • Miss Law’s contributions to our blogging community have helped as well … the children are very sad that she’s leaving soon, but are very aware that they’ll be able to keep in touch through their blogs.
    • I’ve also made more of an effort to catch some time with the children to point out the great contributions to their wikis. I need to spend more time helping them to organise their front pages …. it’s not immediadely obvious how much work is in there! The writing that has been done recently, has been by the children in their spare time at home. For example, check out Bethany’s great story here weebethanyr.png¬†and Maryam’s playscript weemaryams.png

    ¬†¬†¬†The second article in the Connected magazine was by Linda Lafferty and is entitled¬†Everything in Moderation¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†. Linda was my online tutor for a number of my Chartered Teacher modules …. and I can vouch for her great ability to moderate online (and I suspect that everyone on the course would echo that!).

    Linda wrote:

    To develop an online community requires a more student-centred approach with the tutor transforming into a facilitator from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side’.

    It is my belief that potential moderators should be introduced to the subtleties of online facilitation from the perspective of first becoming an online learner, thus enabling them to actually feel and experience the myriad of online processes which provide them with the whole picture. How else can you develop and properly hone the almost ‘sixth sense’ you need to be able to read your participants’ requirements online ‚Äď tuning in to the subtleties and nuances and reading what is not being said?

    She goes on to say:

    As every online event and community is unique, you never moderate the same things in the same way ‚Äď it really does put the fun back into teaching and learning and keeps you on your ‘virtual toes’.

    Yes …… it does!!!!!!! ūüôā

    …. And now I understand what Ewan meant when he commented way back when I started this blog. He said:

    The notion of work patterns seems to correlate to the traditional classroom‚Äôs ‚Äėroutines‚Äô. If an online community is going to be successful people always need a reason to go back to it. This is where routines and regular ‚Äôspecial events‚Äô help people have that kick into action in those parts of the course where motivation begins to flag. Is this what your tutor means?

    After contemplating some advice, I replied to his comment. I said:

    ‚Ķ. I‚Äôm interested in Ewan‚Äôs notion that ‚Äôspecial events‚Äô should be provided to motivate pupils to return to the ‚Äėonline environment‚Äô – I‚Äôd thought of taking a ‚Äėback seat‚Äô now that the class have their own spaces and just watch to see what happens?

    Recent events have made me think again ….. constantly reflecting ūüôā

                                                                       

    Even More Thoughts :)

    Girls and young woman are now the most prolific web users

    The internet began as an almost exclusively male preserve. Now young women, from primary school age upwards, are now making it their own

    This is the claim made in the¬†The Times Online¬†. The article goes on to say that ….

    ‘A recent study by the Pew Internet Project in America on teens in social media found that blogging growth among teenagers is almost entirely fuelled by girls, whom it describe as a new breed of ‚Äúsuper-communicators‚ÄĚ. Some 35% of girls, compared with 20% of boys, have blogs; 32% of girls have their own websites, against 22% of boys. ‘

    I have spent some time on Google Reader having a look at the blog posts by my class over the last month. Here’s the breakdown:

    • There were 73 blog posts by girls and 7 posts by boys
    • the 73 ‘girl’ posts were made by 12 different girls (the biggest¬†contribution from an individual¬†was 20 posts, most contributed between 5 and 8 posts, a few have only put on 1 or 2 posts)
    • the 7 ‘boy’ posts were made by 5 of the boys. One boy contributed 3 posts, the others contributed 1 each

    I haven’t yet analysed the types of posts.

    I also checked my class gmail account where the comments arrive for moderation. Altogether in the same period there were 128 comments. I know that quite a few of the¬†¬†children leave comments on the AllStars individual blogs, but I’ve no easy way of ¬†gathering this information … maybe Kim could help ūüôā

    Here’s the breakdown for the Comments information that I do have:

    • 100 of the comments were made on the girls’ blogs
    • 28 of the comments were made on the boys’ blogs
    • of the 28 comments made on the boys’ blogs, 8 were made by boys (and 3 of those were by AllStars’ boys)

    More from The Times article :

    ‚ÄúIf you look at young girls, they do more communicating than young boys and that‚Äôs what they are doing on the web,‚ÄĚ said Professor Anthony White, a lecturer in the school of computing science at Middlesex University. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just natural for them.‚ÄĚ

    Professor White reports that in the computer courses he teaches at Middlesex University,  women are beginning to outperform men.

    He is also quoted as saying:

    ‘In actual fact [the courses] are oriented towards what women like doing. They just don‚Äôt know that before they enrol. The last time I checked the figures, female students were doing better than men in the courses’

    Thanks to John for his great post that helped me find this article through ScotEdublogs news. I now have the site added to my Google Reader account ūüôā

    Back to 'Research' Basics

    I contacted someone via email recently to ask for advice about my research. The response is very much valued¬† – I don’t yet have permission yet¬†to quote the ‘mentor’s’ (?) advice, so I hope that it’s ok to do this anonymously.

    My research Question:

    Can Weblogs and Wikis and other associated emerging social software tools be used to create an effective on-line learning community? 

    Some points to consider here:

    • ¬†‘effective’ is quite a problematic term – do we mean effective within the current standards driven climate or is ‘effective’ relating to a different way of working/ learning?¬†
    • ¬†‘learning community’ is defined and understood in different ways, too, so it would be necessary to explore this – perhaps looking to see what kind of community develops rather than trying to mould it to become something specific?

    My research Aims:

    Aims 1 and 2:

    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†To investigate the useful features, and barriers, when using blogs and wikis in a supportive on-line environment
    • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†To set appropriate tasks and to guide and monitor progress

    The advice here is:

    • this may be a point of contention – if you are setting tasks to guide progress that could be in contradiction of the underpinning nature of web 2.0 and approaching the project with a viewpoint of learning and teaching.¬†
    • ¬†it is really important to be clear about your own underpinning understandings and assumptions about the nature and purpose of learning and teaching and what the underpinning principles etc are.¬†¬†
    • What is your theoretical framework for the project?

    Aim 3

    • To evaluate motivation, as well as formal and informal learning

     Advice is:

    • How do you propose to go about collecting/ creating data for this project?
    • what will you be looking for and analysing in your data?
    • Will you be analysing the blog contributions made by the pupils?
    • if so what will you look for? ¬†

    Lots of thinking taking place …. and some more posts pending¬† – one step at a time ūüôā

    'Managing Our Community' – Involving Others

    ¬†By ‘our community’, I mean our online community …. quite separate from our classroom community (discussed HERE).

    The following quotes are from wikipedia

    Quote 1

    An online learning community is a common place on the Internet that addresses the learning needs of its members through proactive and collaborative partnerships. Through social networking and computer-mediated communication, people work as a community to achieve a shared learning objective. Learning objectives may be proposed by an instructor or may arise out of discussions between participants that reflect personal interests. In an online community, people communicate via textual discussion (synchronous or asynchronous), audio, video, or other Internet-supported devices. Blogs blend personal journaling with social networking to create environoments rich with opportunities for reflection.

    Much literature promote online learning communities as environments conducive to communities of practice as described by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger.

    Quote 2

    A primary focus of Wenger‚Äôs work is on learning as social participation ‚Äď the individual as an active participant in the practices of social communities, and in the construction of his/her identity through these communities. From this understanding develops the concept of the community of practice: a group of individuals participating in communal activity, and experiencing/continuously creating their shared identity through engaging in and contributing to the practices of their communities.

    I’ve tried to involve the wider community.

    For example …..

     blog5.gif

    Thank you to all the mums and dads ‚Ķ..¬†¬†¬†¬† (and grans and grandads, and brothers and sisters, and aunties and uncles!!!) for coming to our ‚ÄėBlogging Evening‚Äô!

    ‚Ķ. But most of all THANK YOU to Primary 7 ‚Ķ. You were all ‚Äėmega stars‚Äô and¬†you made¬†the whole event¬†great – I was so proud of everyone of you!

     harvest4.JPG

    Every year at this time, the primary 7 pupils deliver groceries to the elderly people in our community. Today the weather was not good, but there was a smile on everyone’s face …. the givers and the receivers!

    Yesterday, John told us about a photograph he was glad to have taken. He explained how he happened to be in a position to be able to capture the moment.

    Isn’t it great!!!!

    award11.jpg

    copyright of JSP-photography & John Summers.

    ……… My hope is that (eventually) other members of our wider community will¬†contribute ūüôā

    Managing our Community

    I’ve been following some recent¬†posts about how to manage class blogs. The Connected Live blog mentions how John Connell¬†points to a¬†post entitled¬†Class blogs – management, moderation and protection by Al Upton.

    This blog¬†mentions the ‘G-mail +’ option.

    It’s very important to me that our community is a safe one. … ¬†but I also want the children to have the freedom to¬†have their own space and not feel that there’s a ‘Big Brother’ culture present.

    So here’s what I’ve done¬†to try to create that balance:

    • First I created a¬†Class Blog¬†so that I could give the pupils an audience for their work
    • Very soon after creating the class blog, I realised that it was important to allow access to the children’s own work so I created a¬†wikispace for the class to post their writing
    • This didn’t work well, because if we all logged on and edited the space at the same time, problems occured (a ‘someone else is editing this space’ message)
    • I wanted the children to have their own blogs, but still have control over how they were used.¬†I¬†discovered that¬†East Lothian¬†could help me set up individual blogs . These children have now moved on to High School.
    • I’ve now managed to set up our own individual blogs without the help of East Lothian.¬†…… ¬†I discovered the ‘Gmail+’ trick. For example, If you have a ‘yourname@Gmail’ account, it’s possible to create lots of new blogs using that same e-mail address.¬†You can do this by¬†creating new blogs¬†with a ‘yourname+student1@gmail’¬†, ‘yourname+student2@gmail’ etc.
    • One¬†advantage is that, although the pupils have¬†admin rights,¬†the teacher¬†can also¬†login to¬†the¬†blogs at any time.
    • Another advantage is that any comments appear in the teacher’s Gmail account – even although the¬†children can moderate them, the teacher has a record of what has appeared
    • It’s quite easy to keep track of what is being posted on the¬†children’s blogs by using ‘google reader’, or something similar
    • I’ve since discovered that Wikispaces will set up separate username and passwords for students if you email them the information required.

    It all seems to be working well so far ūüôā ……..

    Back Tracking!

    On the post before the last one I said that I would investigate:

  • whether the use of co-existing online communities enhances and/or changes the offline context of my classroom
  • Since beginning blogging with classes, I’ve always thought it strange that what happens ‘online’ is not (obviously) transferred to the ‘offline’ classroom context. For example, if I comment on a post, it’s (usually) never mentioned in the ‘offline’ classroom situation.

    Miss Law , our B’Ed student, has also been leaving comments on the pupils’ individual blogs – and she agrees with me that there appears to be a divide between the ‘online’ and ‘offline’ communities.

    She mentioned a comment left on one of her posts by a pupil. He showed another side to her when he complimented her teaching…………. this isn’t something that he would have done in the everyday classroom situation.

    I think, however, that the lesson contents do change as a result of the online communications. Tomorrow, for example, we are holding our first ‘Book Appreciation Group’ meeting. This came about due to the¬†number of pupils who posted about their love of reading¬†on their individual blogs.

    Continuing Conversations

    ¬†The ‘World of Work’ posts are still appearing on the pupils’ individual blogs. The children’s posts now show evidence of building on the ideas expressed by their peers. They’re referring to each others’ blogs – some even adding links. I’m glad now that I made the decision to ‘take a step back’ and allow things to¬†develop naturally.

    A few¬†children who don’t normally ‘blog’ from home are beginning to do so. For example, Russell ¬†recently updated his blog so that he could join in the ‘conversation’:

    “One of the hard things in life is choise some are easy like what should i wear and others are hard like what car to buy. BUT THE HARDEST ONE IS WHAT JOB TO HAVE BECAUSE THERE ARE LOADS. When i grow up i would either like to be a normal police officer which is like solving crimes and stuff. Or in the traffic police, which is like catching speeders and arriving at motorway accidents or illegal number plates. Or be in the armed responce unit which are the police with guns and go to accident which suspects are armed.¬†”¬†¬†

    Jaydean also wrote from home:

    “Our class, P7V had a visitor, Miss Hart. Miss Hart is a journalist, she told us a lot about journalism its made me think. I love performing but journalism sounds quite fun. My passion is to perform as I love singing, dancing and acting but if anything goes wrong and Im not able to perform, I‚Äôll consider being a journalist. Just as my friend nina said in one of her posts there are so many desisions!!!!”

    Other children who don’t normally blog are¬†choosing not to write about the ‘World of Work’ thread, but are posting¬†new topic conversations.

    For example, Kieran S recently posted:

    “I am going on a trip to Ardeonaig. On the 9th to the 20th of may you get to go lots of places like up a mountain and go Canoing. You get to go on the high ropes there is a games hall to there is lots more stuff.I went last year to. With my friends Russell Adam and Stewart It was SO funny. but the bad thing is that you have to do the cleaning up after you has finish your dinner. It is still very good. one of the funny thing that happened was when Russell and Adam put Stewart‚Äôs pajamas in to the water and he had to take my one‚Äôs but it was not funny for me. I hope i have fun when i go.bye”

    Courtney wrote:

    “hi well i know that i haven‚Äôt been on but ive been bizzy well you know that i‚Äôm in da scouts so you might know that i do badges well i‚Äôve been doin ma photogrephers badge and we’re doin five aside footi and goin up kanarde wood oh and a beaver trail. finaly were goin t a bothy but i dont know if i‚Äôm goin as it‚Äôs two hours in a bus and it is really snowy so it will b cold in da tent!!!!”

    The children who do tend to post in their own time are becoming more adept at it.

    For example, Anna wrote recently:

    ”¬†I‚Äôm gettting the hand of writing posts now! At first i was totally stuck but now i write about anything really. I like to comment on other peoples blogs to,especially people from the allstars and even our class write gr8 posts that you have to comment on. I reccomend Moni‚Äôs Blog, Because she has lots of posts about what we have been up to in p7v. I also like looking at Beki‚Äôs Blog¬†because she has interesting posts like book reviews and stuff. Ninzy‚Äôs Blog. I like to look at other peoples to but i dont have time the now cause i‚Äôm going out with my little cuz. ‚ĶTo be continued D

     Maryam tends to write posts regularly. A recent post received a number of comments. One of them was from Nadine  from  Allstars.

    Nadine commented:

    ‘Hi Maryam!!! )
    I am Nadine from The o8 Allstars!! I am from Australia and i am almost twelve years old.
    You sound like a really nice person and i’d really like to be a friend!
    Anyway, i am soooo into writing too! My whole class says i’m so good too.
    I want to be a writer so badly!!
    I might be a doctor too, but i hate having to inject needles and see blood! (

    I’ll need to devote some time to investigating¬†the impact of¬†comments on postings ūüôā

    So What IS Happening? …Post 2

    ¬†The idea of ‚Äėonline and offline‚Äô co-existing communities is something that Victoria¬†suggested I look at in my Case Study: She suggests looking at:

  • whether the use of co-existing online communities enhances and/or changes the offline context of my classroom;
  • whether it shifts the ways in which both myself and the children in the class conceptualize and operationalize curriculum;
  • whether I find myself changing the ways in which I teach and deliver curriculum.
  • I think that some of these issues can be addressed following some recent activities on the pupils’ blogs.

    clue2.jpg

     Maryam posted this on her blog early in January:

    “I‚Äôve been thinking on being a book writer.Well,i dont know yet but i love reading books and i always like writing stories.I might start writing more on my wiki.My room has quite alot of books flooding everywhere.He He!Anyway i was wondering if you could give me some tips how to be a good story writer.”

    I posted a comment that led me to thinking about introducing the children to different Learning Styles. The children were very keen to find their preferred style. The quiz they took can be found HERE. This led them to want to research what job they might be most suited to .. and they began to Blog about this.

    I think  Ainsley  was the first to post.

    “i just love reading books i dont know how i just love it.¬†I love to write stories¬†and read stories. when i am older i want to become a writer and write lots of things ( but i dont know yet what i am going to write hehe.I love scary books , sad books , adventure books and etc. I dont read the news paper because i find it boring and i just dont like to read it but every thing else is fun to read. maybe you should try to rite your own book and i will to. i will come back to you when i have wrote atleast 4 pages hehe”

    Nina wrote a great post at home one evening. It was obvious that she had put a lot of thought into writing it, and when I noticed it on ‘google reader’ that evening, I decided that I would share it with the others the next day ………. it’s interesting that after the post had been shared, there was a spontaneous ’round of applause’ and when she got back home, she re-vamped¬†her post¬†by¬†adding paragraphs and some more interesting words and phrases here and there (audience awareness?). I’ve included a bit here:

    “Decisions.There is so much decisions in life there right infront of you,some are hard and some are easy(i tend to ask for advice on the hard)

    Like one for example what should i have for breakfast?But the one thing that is the hardest i think is what your career should be.Well when we were young we all wanted to be heroes and heroines like firemen,Police,Vets,doctor,teachers,dancers and more.But when you get older you start to think more about this. I’m not old enough to get a job yet of course but it just makes me think.

    I wanted to be a Ballet dancer when i was small but i don’t go to dancing because of my spine, therefore ballet is not a job option for me as things have changed.Well i think if i go to Uni or College i could become most of the things because i think i’m quite clever not at language though,i don’t like it.

    Here are a few jobs i‚Äôd like to do and why.Well my first one is a Journalist i‚Äôd like to do this because i like to find out things and it would be interesting and i think i‚Äôm alright at writing.I‚Äôd like to get in touch with a newspaper¬†and get better at¬†my writing…….”

     Anna then wrote:

    Nina‚Äôs¬†Post kind of got me thinking‚ĶThere are¬†a lot os Desicions in life.I guess we make never really think about it!Well when i‚Äôm older i really want to be something along the lines of a Journalist. (eg;Fashion magazine editor;Write:Journalist) That kinda stuff.One time i considered being a Police woman but then i though nahh‚ĶThe uniformas are hideous!! No i‚Äôm joking really i think if i were a police Woman I might get hurt or something ( So basically this post is to say thanks to Nina For giving me a¬† bit of a boost and stuff like that haha xbye xxx”

    Miss L¬†is a final year Bed student in our class at the moment. She was keen to set up her own blog and added a post to join in with the ‘conversation’. A short extract is below:

    “I thought I would write something about this as so many of you have. Although I have not fully entered the world of work officially I am nearly there! Fingers crossed anyway!Where to start? Well, when I was wee I always wanted to be a teacher. I used to make my little brother sit and listen to me when I pretended to teach him! I used to have to bribe him with sweets etc! However, when he got a bit older he did appreciate the help with his homework so I think we both benefitted from it!…………………..”

    Bethany added this post just this weekend:

    “I didn‚Äôt really know what to write a post on and everyone seems to be writing about what they want to be when they are older. It got me thinking of how many choices we actually make in life. I mean there is little ones like what will i eat for breakfast? or what will i wear tomorrow? There are also bigger choices like Will i buy the game i want that is ¬£45? The choice that quite alot gets to me is what i want to play when i go to my friends houses. I can never seem to decide. I think a reason for that is that you are worried incase the persons house you are at does not want to play that thing and you are making it boring for them. Another choice that is hard for me is what i want to be when i am older? When i was smaller i used to want to be a ballerina or a nurse but now that has changed especially because i dont really like programs that they cut people open and things. I just personally could not do that and i cant understand how some people can do that! I also used to want to be either a vet or a teacher until i found out that being a vet can involve putting animals down.:( ! A teacher i am still considering with about a million other jobs. If you think about it there is so much out there so i will just have to go with the flow and see what life throws at me!”

    Monica joined in only today:

    “When i am older i would like to become a singer. I would go on the X factor. I have always been quite shy. So that would be a thing¬†i would need to work on. I am not sure if i am a good singer or not lol. Its hard to say when your friends say you are good but then all the boys say you are rubbish. The only thing is i am not sure about going on the X factor is i might go on and make a fool of¬† my self if i cant sing lol. But i will give it a try in the future.

     Another job i would like to do is be a teacher. I would like to teach primary schools. Also i would need to be more confident to be able to speak in front of people. These are only two jobs i wouold like.

    Bye x

    Do you think i should go for the X Factor when i am older?”

    So to return to Victoria’s email suggestions:

  • whether the use of co-existing online communities enhances and/or changes the offline context of my classroom
  • I have lots of thoughts on this and will devote¬†a¬†post to the topic ūüôā¬†

  • whether it shifts the ways in which both myself and the children in the class conceptualize and operationalize curriculum;
  • whether I find myself changing the ways in which I teach and deliver curriculum.
  • Although these two issues need to be looked at very closely,¬†it is a fact that¬†the ‘Learning Style’ quiz idea came from reading a post on one of the children’s blogs. I’ve also arranged for an author and¬†a journalist to visit the class because of the interest shown in these careers in the recent blog posts quoted above …………

    ….. and If anyone knows a famous X Factor star, I’m sure that Monica would be very happy if you could arrange a class visit ūüôā

    So What IS Happening? …Post 1

    In her email to me, Jackie‘s¬†thoughts included:

    • ¬†the idea of¬†exploring the¬†area of¬†gendered representations of identity

    She was referring to the children’s use of ‘weemees‘ to represent themselves.

    wee-adaml.png    wee-darrenm.png   weekierans.png     wee-fraserm.png

    weebethanyr.png    weeninam.png   weejaydeanc.png    wee-sophie.png

    The children had great fun designing their characters. The girls (2nd row) all spent a lot of time getting their weemees to look like themselves …. eye colour, hair colour, face shapes, etc. The boys (top row) are less recognisable! They’ve designed characters to depict their interests. I know, for example, that the boy represented in the first picture is very interested in characters in computer games (this also shows in his imaginative writing tasks). The ‘guitar hero’¬†doesn’t really look like his¬†creator, but I know that¬†he does enjoy playing the guitar.

    Jackie also highly rated:

    • the importance of allowing the children to drive the use of the blogs

    I’ve tried very hard this session to make sure that this is the case and have just carried out a quick review of what has happened over this last month.

    I looked at gender and types of posts. Here’s my ‘snapshot’ view of the situation in the month of January (2008!)¬† ……… learnerblogs was VERY slow tonight, so may have got fed up waiting for a few of the blogs to load ūüôā

    Girls …. 30 posts

    Boys …. 24 posts

    I broke down the post into types:

    • basic pictures from web
    • what’s happening in class / school
    • playing with codes
    • own thoughts

    The ‘breakdown’ is as follows¬† – girls are blue, boys are¬†red

    Basic pics from web Р0                10

    Class/School posts   Р12               10

    Playing with Codes¬†¬†¬†–¬† 3¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†0

    Own Thoughts¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† –¬† 15¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 4

    These numbers are just for January .. the bigger picture might be different ūüėÄ

    Constantly Reflecting …..

    Module 1 of my Charter teacher course (way back 5 yrs ago!!) with UOP stated that we should:

    ‚ÄúThrough reflection, analyse and evaluate professional values, personal commitment and personal development‚ÄĚ.

    ctpic.jpg

    Pollard (2003) suggests that critical reflection and systematic investigation of our own practice should become an integral part of our daily classroom lives and reminds us that this was also the central idea of the educationalist, Lawrence Stenhouse (1975)

    Jean McNiff  states that Action Research involves teachers thinking about and reflecting on their work and can also be called a form of self-reflective practice.

    She¬†also states that the idea of self-reflection is central and that it is an enquiry conducted by the self into the self, and¬†discusses how to modify practice in the light of the evaluation of a piece of research……..

    ‚ÄėPerhaps in addressing one issue, you have unearthed other issues that you had not expected. There is no end, and that is the nature of developmental practices, and part of the joy of doing action research.‚Äô

    [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/KmEbjzqiBB0" width="340" height="280" wmode="transparent" /]

    This statement describes exactly the cycle that I feel I have now been drawn into as a direct result of taking part in the Chartered Program.

    During this ‘Dissertation’ section of the Chartered Teacher journey, reviewing the literature has allowed me to access relevant materials. Because of the ‚Äėnew‚Äô nature of the topic under review, I am aware that there are going to be brand new useful references becoming available throughout the course of¬†this study.

    One of the recent Economist.com Debates is a prime example of this. The third debate in the series started on January 15th 2008:

    ‚ÄúSocial Networking: does it bring positive change to education?”

    The results are now ‚Äėlive‚Äô (27/01/2008), and have already stirred up a new wave of debates.

    Ewan McIntosh from Learning and Teaching Scotland was the speaker for the motion, and Michael Bugeja, Director of Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, spoke against.

    During the time of the debate, Ewan McIntosh posted on his Blog  that:

    ‚Äú‚Ķ‚Ķ‚ĶAnother of the main points of argument has been in the very definition of what social networking is, with three of those who I respect for their expertise in this domain being largely contradicted by what the vast majority of teacher professionals believe. Far from being the simplistic friends list social networks of Facebook that spring to mind, these educators see their own blog, Twitter accounts or even Flickr pages as the basis of their social networking. Furthermore, I’m not convinced we can simply write this off as the dumbness of crowds, given that nearly all those doing the contradicting are professionals who work with this stuff day in day out, many with their own students.‚ÄĚ

    He also wrote that social networks will change educational methods for the better.

    The Future of ICT and Learning in the Knowledge Society http://ftp.jrc.es/eur22218en.pdf states that:

    …….These fundamental issues are related to the possible political, emancipatory and empowerment objectives of ICT-enabled learning, and also to the risk that innovative learning via ICT will only be beneficial for the already privileged. This report, however, has also pointed to the inclusive potential of ICT-enabled learning to provide learning opportunities to more people, especially disadvantaged people, families and groups. As repeatedly argued, this will not happen automatically. People will only be motivated to return to learning if it is relevant to their daily lives, their social context and social networks.

    Future research could contribute by investigating how such initiatives could be undertaken. Understanding the potential of ICTs for learning requires that we also understand better how to merge pedagogy and technology. This could be done, for instance, by looking at how the younger generation makes use of ICTs. This is the generation that already behaves and thinks digital. Learning from the digital generation should enable us to understand better what lifelong learning (which also involves older people) in the future knowledge-based society will mean. This report has just provided a first glimpse. There is still a lot to learn………..

    [slideshare id=248696&doc=research-1201807856814071-4&w=425]

    Literature Review … Final Piece of the Puzzle!

    ¬†Previous post recap ………..

    “The report goes on to say that it‚Äôs not about trying to formalise the informal; rather it is about using this newly emerging third space in ways that stimulate students and enable them to transfer their skills.”

    8447942_772727171.jpg

    Wikepidia states that :

    …………….”The Third Place” is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace.¬† In his influential book The Great, Good Place, Ray Oldenburg argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.

    Oldenburg coins ‚Äúfirst‚ÄĚ place as our home and those we live with. Our second place is the workplace ‚ÄĒ where we may actually spend most of our time. Third places, then are “anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in our day is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to our current societal needs……..

    Konrad Glogowski  

    ……. has noticed that the online community¬†he has built¬†with his¬†students every year often resembles a “Third Place”.¬†He decided to investigate what contributes to this development. He¬†discovered that ensuring that certain features and freedoms are in place before learning begins can have a strong impact on the development of a classroom community.

    …………….. he says that he tries to ensure that the online environment he prepares can grow into a vibrant and engaging community. His idea is to ensure that the students see the online environment as their own Рnot merely an extension of the classroom, but a place where they feel free to interact and write as individuals.

     Stephen Heppell 

    ………….. spoke to¬†Learning and Teaching Scotland about online learning communities, and stated that¬†technology has¬†given us a much flatter playing field. He suggests that young children online can have the freedom to whoever they¬†want to be – and that¬†means that they¬†can take part¬†in really engaging debates.

    He is of the opinion that it‚Äôs always fascinating to see what happens when children learn together and has witnessed quite remarkable progress. For example, he recalls a primary school child who was leading an online debate about badgers¬†– everybody else in the debate had a PhD and was average age 28.¬†It wasn’t possible to¬†tell she was a primary school child – she was out researching like mad to make sure she stayed ahead of the people and that she knew what she needed to know!

    Jackie Marsh  

    ……………. writes that, because of the range of learning opportunities presented by digital technologies, new pedagogical approaches are needed in schools if the curriculum is to be sufficiently engaging and appropriate for children and young people.¬†She believes that¬†it’s essential that schools offer opportunities for all children to become competent and effective analysers and producers of a range of multimodal texts and artefacts.¬†

    Jackie worked with Peter Winter on a project where the pupils blogged about Dinosaurs. As the topic was negotiated by Peter and a teacher in the USA, Jackie writes¬†that ownership of the project was somewhat limited ……… but that¬†the children were free to use the blog to engage in the topic in whichever way they wished to, which led to a range of creative and imaginative work.¬†She goes on to say that:

    ”¬†…….enabling children to create blogs based on their own interests and experiences, rather than linked to a classroom-based topic, might offer opportunities for children to create networks of peers interested in similar topics, thus offering valuable learning opportunities with regard to social networking software (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006).”

    Jackie is of the opinion that the affordances of blogs mean that they are ideal formats for displaying aspects of one’s identity, and quotes Victoria Carrington:

    “……….these texts are signposts of the kinds of practices with technology and text that may be socially useful in developing and displaying self-narratives ‚ÄĒ layered, networked texts, multimodality, the continuous and conscious slide between online and offline. (Carrington, 2006, p. 11)”¬†

    The idea of ‘online and offline’ co-existing communities is something that Victoria¬† suggested I look at in my own Case Study:

    • whether the use of co-existing online communities enhances and/or changes the offline context of¬†my classroom;
    • ¬†whether it shifts the ways in which both¬†myself and¬†the children in the class¬†conceptualize and operationalize curriculum;
    • whether¬†I find¬†myself changing the ways in which¬†I teach and deliver curriculum;
    • whether a school-sourced online community will have the same features and adoption as one created by the¬†children outside school.

     

     

    OK …. that’s the Literature Review bit (and blogging it as I went along has definately helped!).

    Now moving swiftly on to the ‘Implementation’ of the Plan………….

    Literature Review No.3 …….

    In my last post, I quoted George Siemens as saying:

    ¬†¬†¬†¬† “The starting point of connectivism is the individual.”

    816491_954602041.jpg

    This paper Рdeveloped by the LTS Future Learning and Teaching (FLaT) Reference Group  discusses how Personalisation has emerged as a way of making the curriculum more personal-centred and humane but adds that this entails responsibilities as well as rights. The individual learner has a claim on the time and the assistance of both teacher and peers but has an obligation to make a positive contribution in return. Personalised learning is, therefore, part of the process of establishing the school as a mutually-supportive community of learners. 

    The authors remind us that learning is an intrinsically social process and that for most people, most of the time, developing understanding requires interaction with others.

    This report states that we we are increasingly witnessing a change in the view
    of what education is for, with a growing emphasis on the need to support young people not only to acquire knowledge and information, but to develop the resources and skills necessary to engage with social and technical change, and to continue learning throughout the rest of their lives. The authors go on to say that t
    here are also changes in our understanding of practices of creativity and innovation ‚Äď from the idea of the isolated individual ‚Äėgenius‚Äô to the concept of ‚Äėcommunities of practice‚Äô, where reflection and feedback are important collaborative processes.

    They¬†wanted to find out if it’s possible to draw on the activities emerging through social software to create learning communities which offer young people personalised, collaborative learning experiences such as those that are already emerging in the world outside the school gates. They state that children and young people are increasingly becoming authors of blogs, and that research is only now beginning to catch up with these activities. The authors state that there are growing concerns about the safety and privacy of young people. Adults worry that by displaying personal information, young people are putting themselves at risk from predators who may take advantage of the anonymity and unbounded nature of the internet to make contact with young people.

    The authors go on to say that, while there may be some basis for these concerns, a rapid survey of blogs on Live Journal or MySpace suggest that most of the communication between bloggers appears to be between people who already know each other in the offline world.

    Two researchers from Demos¬†are of the opinion¬†that young people are spending their time in a space which adults find difficult to supervise or understand and that there are some powerful myths that inform the way people think about youth culture. Their report sets out to challenge some of those myths in order to explore the real value behind the digital interactions that are part of everyday life. Over¬†a six months period¬†they undertook interviews, group discussions and informal conversations with children and young people around the UK.¬†They asked interviewees to fill in diaries tracking their media consumption ‚Äď what they used, what they used it for and how often they used it. These diaries were a starting point for a series of focus groups.¬†

    They spent time in primary and secondary schools and youth groups with over 60 children and young people aged between seven and 18, speaking to them about how new technologies fitted into their lives. They also polled 600 parents of children aged four to 16 across England to find out their views on learning and the role of digital technologies in their children’s lives.

    The finding from their research was that the use of digital technology has been completely normalised by this generation, and it is now fully integrated into the daily lives of young people. The majority of them simply use new media as tools to make their lives easier, strengthening their existing friendship networks rather than widening them. Almost all are now also involved in creative production, from uploading and editing photos to building and maintaining websites.

    In their Executive summary, the authors¬†state that the current generation of decision-makers ‚Äď from politicians to teachers ‚Äď see the world from a very different perspective to the generation of young people who do not remember life without the instant answers of the internet or the immediate communication of mobile phones.

    The researchers¬†found that¬†most schools block MySpace, YouTube and that Bebo. Mobiles, iPods and other pieces of equipment are similarly unwelcome in the classroom. They also¬†found that teachers often do not feel confident using hardware or software ‚Äď many know less than their students.¬†¬†¬†¬†

     Their research suggests that the blanket approach of banning and filtering may not be the most effective safeguard. Not only was it vulnerable to advances in technology and digitally savvy children, but the children they interviewed were on the whole aware of potential dangers and adept at self-regulating. 

    ¬†The authors¬†go on to say that, the more children are encouraged to expand their digital repertoire, the more adept they will become at using different tools for different purposes in their everyday lives.¬† This type of learning ‚Äď anything which is loosely organised and happens outside the confines of the school gates ‚Äď is usually defined as informal learning, and that¬†it is this type of learning which often provides children with the confidence to succeed in formal contexts.¬†¬†

    The¬†report goes on to say that¬†it’s not about trying to formalise the informal; rather it is about using this newly emerging third space in ways that stimulate students and enable them to transfer their skills.¬†

    4th (and final ……………… maybe?) literature review post coming soon ūüôā

    Draft Literature Review ……. 2

    ¬†Here’s a summary of my proposed first wee bit of my literacy review¬†……….. it didn’t help stumbling across the recent new debates taking place online this weekend. It’s too late to change track or make any changes now – but this is only a first draft so I’ll keep an eye on what’s happening ūüôā

    426527_959119841.jpg

    Can Weblogs and Wikis and other associated emerging social software tools be used to create an effective on-line learning community?

    ¬†The Futurelab website report on Social Software states that the term social software came into use in 2002 and is generally attributed to Clay Shirky. Shirky, a writer and teacher on the social implications of internet technology, defines social software simply as ‚Äúsoftware that supports group interaction‚ÄĚ (Shirky 2003). The report describes Weblogs as easily updatable personal websites, often used as personal journals. The social aspect of weblogs, it says, can be seen in the ability for readers to comment on postings, to post links to other blogs and, through using pingback or trackback functions, to keep track of other blogs referencing their posts. This enables bloggers to know who is referring to and building on what they say in their blogs.

     This research looked at specific issues surrounding the development of online identities

    ‘.¬†…. the perception of an actual or imagined audience prompts us to think about what we wish to show’

    ‘. ………writing online provides us with the opportunity to ‚Äúauthor the self ‚ÄĚ (Holland et al. 1998), to sustain a narrative of identity (Giddens 1991), and even to explore a number of different stories of the self, but these identities always are forged through our connection with others.’

    ¬†They explored the concepts of ‚Äúaffinity spaces‚ÄĚ (Gee 2004) and ‚Äúcommunities of practice‚ÄĚ (Lave and Wenger 1991) in order to try to describe their relationship with others who blog and who seem to operate within a similar ‚Äúconstellation of sites.‚ÄĚ

    Wenger explains that new technologies such as the Internet have extended the reach of our interactions beyond the geographical limitations of traditional communities, but the increase in flow of information does not obviate the need for community. In fact, it expands the possibilities for community and calls for new kinds of communities based on shared practice.

    ¬†…………. the concept of community of practice is influencing theory and practice in many domains and that, from humble beginnings in apprenticeship studies, the concept was grabbed by businesses interested in knowledge management and has progressively found its way into other sectors. It has now become the foundation of a perspective on knowing and learning that informs efforts to create learning systems in various sectors and at various levels of scale, from local communities, to single organizations, partnerships, cities, regions, and the entire world.

    In this article Dr Gilly Salmon¬†writes that working online is really a new environment for learning, not just a tool and explains that Professor Susan Greenfield, in her recent book Tomorrow’s People, shows us that the accessible and interactive dialogue younger people take for granted has great potential for learning and development, if we can tap into it. The availability of digital resources and the internet as a mediator invites all those seeking learning or understanding to work together in new ways. Online networking is equally as important where there is little consensus about key concepts or rapidly developing knowledge and practice ‚Äď something that applies to so many professional fields in our time.

    ¬†………… The online environment provides a medium for communication and also shapes it. Participants do not need permission to contribute and individuals can receive attention from those willing and able to offer it. Face-to-face identities become less important and the usual discriminators such as race, age and gender are less apparent.

    Back to Futurelab

    …….Communities of practice are groups of people who have specific reasons to have an affinity. It can be an informal network or forum where tips are exchanged and ideas generated (Stewart 1996). It can be a group of professionals, informally bound to one another through exposure to a common class of problems, common pursuit of solutions, and in doing that they become a source of a body of knowledge. Etienne Wenger (Wenger 2000) expands on learning as an inherently social activity. He notes that acquiring knowledge involves an interplay between socially defined knowledge and personal experience which is mediated by membership of a group. Any learning situation has to negotiate both an individual‚Äôs experience, and the knowledge that the individual either brings to, or takes from, the group. Hence there is a logical reason to engage in social software. A potential important factor in the use of social software for online communities of practice is the ability to cross boundaries. Learners might be able to join groups in which age, pre-existing knowledge, gender or location are no longer an apparent barrier. There is also no barrier to young learners establishing their own communities and networks.

    ¬†In The Paper, ‘A Digitally Driven Curriculum’ by Buckingham and McFarlane (2001) remind us that many of today’s children are in fact establishing their own communities and networks using sites such as ‘My Space’, ‘Beebo’, and MSN. He thinks that educators should monopolise on the online communication skills already being developed in the pupils’ lives outside of school.¬†

    An article in the Guardian newspaper by Steve O‚ÄôHear (20/6/06),¬†¬†explains that the “new” web is already having an impact in class, as teachers start exploring the potential of blogs, media-sharing services, and other social software, which, although not designed specifically for e-learning, can be used to empower students and create exciting new learning opportunities. These same tools allow teachers to share and discuss innovations more easily and, in turn, spread good practice.

    A recent HMI Report on Improving Scottish Education includes a section on ‚ÄėICT in Learning and Teaching‚Äô (2007). In the introduction to that report, Graham Donaldson (HM Senior Chief Inspector of Education) states that :

    Information and communications technology (ICT) has transformed the means by which we inform ourselves, remain up to date with world event and areas of personal interest, and further our learning. For many, books and journals are no longer the first or primary source of information or learning. We now regularly rely on images, video, animations and sound to acquire information and to learn. Increased and improved access to the internet has accelerated this phenomenon. We now acquire and access information in ways fundamentally different from the pre-ICT era. The findings outlined in this report confirm that Scotland is well placed to build on current strengths in order to realise the full potential of ICT to improve learning and achievement. The challenge is to make that happen. 

     I spoke to Mary Devine, our Curriculum Development Manager. I wanted to find out my own Authority’s view of using web 2 tools with pupils. Mary left me in no doubt that this is seen as the way forward to develop all sorts of areas of learning. At the moment there is no specific policy in place about the use of these new online tools. The main priority is to find ways of helping teachers to feel comfortable with the new technologies.

    ¬†I contacted Malcolm Wilson from our I.C.T. support team.¬†The team¬†are happy for¬†teachers¬†to set up class blogs¬†as long as all safety rules are in place.¬†The main recommendation, however,¬†is to ‘go down the road’ of Think.com.¬†¬†Think.com has been in place in the Authoity schools for 5¬†years.


     

    This view¬†is of the opinion that Educators are typically not neutral about blogging. There are fierce defenders and fierce critics. Each has an important voice. Will Richardson points out, ‚ÄúOne of the reasons we fear these technologies is because we as teachers don‚Äôt yet understand them or use them. But the reality is that our students already do. It‚Äôs imperative that we be able to teach our kids how to use the tools effectively and appropriately because right now they have no models to follow.‚ÄĚ

    The Paper entitled ‚ÄėEmerging Technologies‚Äô by Bob Godwin-Jones (2003), explains that blogs and wikis offer powerful opportunities for online collaboration for learners. He states that the encouragement of peer to peer networking and buddy learning is central to a Constructivist learning approach, and goes on to say that there has been an increasing interest in using blogs in education.

    Steve Lee & Miles Berry think that many students find that their learning is most effective when they actively construct knowledge during group social interaction and collaboration. Characteristics of such approaches also include: an awareness of multiple
    perspectives, provision of realistic contexts, a sense of ownership and voice,
    learning as a social experience, an acknowledgement of multiple modes of
    representation and a sense of self-awareness (metacognition, or learning about
    learning). These approaches are variously called social constructivism, social
    learning, collaborative learning or aggregated learning. The theories of social
    constructivist
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructivism) epistemology and Vygotsky‚Äôs ‚Äėzone of proximal development‚Äô
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Vygotsky) provide a rigorous underpinning for
    such pedagogies. 

    The Concept Classroom Website provides a series of online professional development workshops. In the Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning workshop, it describes that the Constructivist theory states that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. A Constructivist teacher encourages pupils to constantly assess how an activity is helping them gain understanding. They become ‚Äúexpert learners‚ÄĚ and LEARN HOW TO LEARN. The constructivist classroom, it states, also relies heavily on collaboration.

    The Constructivist approaches to learning have led to the development of the Cognitive Apprenticeship theory. Cognitive Apprentices allow the master (teacher) to model behaviours and then imitates them with the master coaching. (Wikipedia).

    George Siemens writes that behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are the three broad learning theories most often utilized in the creation of instructional environments. These theories, however, were developed in a time when learning was not impacted through technology.

    The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.

    Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.

    Post 3 coming up soon ūüôā

    Literature Review No.1 …….

    literature-review1.jpg

    My ‘Review of the Literature’ bit of the Dissertation is due scarily soon! I’ve been saving¬†links to my delicious account, and I’ve ‘copied and pasted’¬†relevant bits and pieces from various ones onto a wikispace ……… and from there on to a Word document where each ‘link’ has its own page¬†(well, at least I’m familiar with the content now)! It’s surely just a simple matter of making a plan and placing each page into the correct section??

    ………….. The trouble is that I keep getting more and more ‘leads’ to new research and new articles. For example, when I first contacted Jackie Marsh, she very kindly¬†sent me a¬†copy of one of her publications. The quote below from her article has helped to allay any fears that I should be more prescriptive about the use of blogging with my own class. She wrote:

    “More frequent opportunities for more open-ended explorations would be a useful addition to current pedagogical practices. Enabling children to create blogs based on their own interests and experiences, rather than linked to a classroom-based topic, might offer opportunities for children to create networks of peers interested in similar topics, thus offering valuable learning opportunities with regard to social networking software”

    This idea was echoed in her email to me when she wrote:

    “I like the way you are letting the children drive the use of the blogs, that is so important if they¬†are going to be successful. An interesting area to explore would be gendered representations of identity, it strikes me just from the pictures the children
    have used!”

    There’s always the temptation to be seen to ‘lead’ the learning … but I’m glad now that I’ve resisted ūüôā

    As I read through Jackie’s paper, I noted that she’d worked with Victoria Carrington. I ‘googled’ Victoria and decided to send her an email. She’s kindly allowed me to share her advice here. She wrote:

    “I read your entry about the kids in your class and their preference for bebo. This corresponds with feedback from slightly older kids in the UK and here in Australia (13 and 14 year olds). they say they use bebo because it does more interesting things than myspace, but also because they have more personal control. they’re very wary of handing over any control. the other thing that is striking is that most of the kids i’ve come across (i have a small set of early adolescents i watch here in australia and one of my doctoral students is watching another group in the UK) is that the bebo accounts are pretty much an extension and intensification of social contacts they have offline. the online-offline movement seems very fluid.

    Most of my own stuff in this area has been about out-of-school learning and use of text/literacy. i will be interested to hear how these things are translating into classroom practice – whether the use of co-existing online communities enhances and/or changes the offline context of your classroom; whether it shifts the ways in which you and your students conceptualize and operationalize curriculum; whether you find yourself changing the ways in which you teach and deliver curriculum; whether a school-sourced online community will have the same features and adoption as one created by the kids outside school. will be really interesting.”

    All of this is going to be so helpful for my dissertation ‘write-up’. It’s great to get personal feedback. When I contacted Jackie and Victoria, I had no idea that they both had Blogs ….. and unfortunately, instead of getting on with my Literature Review write up, I’ve been reading them!

    ………… However, I did find a great link today on one of Jackie’s posts¬†and I’ll definately be quoting from this research.

    Ok ….. I’m off now to reduce my 17,874 word count to the 8000 limit for this section of the dissertation. I need¬†that plan (and I need it quickly!)

    Blogging With Pupils – A Local Perspective

    falkirk-wheel.jpg

    Yesterday I spoke to Mary Devine, our Curriculum Development Manager. I wanted to find out my own Authority’s view of using web 2 tools with pupils. Mary left me in no doubt that this is seen as the way forward to develop all sorts of areas of learning.

    At the moment there is no specific policy in place about the use of these new online tools. The main priority is to find¬†ways of helping teachers to feel comfortable with the new technologies in order to monopolise on the online communication skills already being developed in the pupils’ lives outside of school.

    Most teachers are supporting learning through the use of educational games, researching
    on the internet, using Powerpoint, etc.

    Outwith school, however, pupils are using ICT on a more social level.

    They are using sites such as MSN, where they are involved in synchronous communication, and other sites such as Bebo or My Space, where they are involved in asynchronous communication. One way to ‘bridge the gap’ is seen to be the introduction
    of Blogs and Wikis into classrooms.

    There are already plans in place to work with some specific pupils from a range of primary schools in the region, but it was stressed that the aim was to allow all children to benefit from access to these tools.

    Mary has given me some other contacts within the region ……. more posts pending!

    Back to the Keyboard!

     type.jpg

    ¬†A few days ago,¬†I logged on to my email account to discover I had 2 new comments on this blog. They were both from Kim who has agreed to be my critical friend throughout this dissertation ‘experience’! I’m so grateful for these comments – they’ve ‘kicked me into action’ again. They were both very thought provoking .. I’m still contemplating them 2 or 3 days later ūüôā

    They can be found on this post and on this other post.

    In my previous post I had written,

    “When I asked them about their preference to using Bebo¬†versus their Individual Blogs, I was really surprised that they thought that the Bebo site was ‚Äôsafer‚Äô. They thought that it was safer because they had all opted to choose the ‚Äėonly friends can see my page‚Äô option. They felt that there were no worries about ‚Äôstrangers‚Äô looking at their site – they were in control? They mentioned that the ‚Äėpublic‚Äô option on Bebo was for older people (bigger brothers and sisters)¬†¬†¬†¬† .‚Ķ‚Ķ‚Ķ so do they feel uncomfortable with their individual blogs?? Too exposed?”

    Kim’s comment prompted me to investigate that issue more fully. Today in class, the children explained that it wasn’t that they felt unsafe using their blogs, but that they realised the dangers of placing individual photographs on there, or mentioning surnames, etc.¬†These are things they feel that they can do on their Bebo sites because only their chosen friends can view these things. It’s not a case of them feeling uncomfortable with our Individual Blogs, just an awareness of the need to be more vigilant.

    In her second comment, Kim asked,

    “Maybe it comes back to the whole purpose of blogging in your room – have you discussed this with the kids? What do you use your blogs for?”

    I found this a difficult question to answer. I think maybe there’s not just one purpose. I explained in the response that I’m trying not to allow them to become ‘teacher directed’. At the moment, for example, we’re writing group stories that will be turned in to Playscripts. Some groups are writing these on their wikis, some prefer to use paper and pencil. We aim to eventually act out these plays and video them for the blog…… that’s the plan, anyway ūüôā

    We’re also about to begin our WW2 topic. Before we do that, we’ll try to get a sense of history by making up good interview questions to ask an older member of the family. Some might choose to note down the responses, some might make a podcast and others have suggested carrying out a telephone interview.

    Thanks again to my critical friend for helping me to keep focused!

    Maybe it’s time to remind myself of¬†the questions and aims I set out at the start of this dissertation journey ………. I’m finding that it’s vey easy to wander off the track:)

    Question:

    • Can Weblogs and Wikis and other associated emerging social software tools be used to create an effective on-line learning community?

    Aims:

    • To investigate the useful features, and barriers, when using blogs and wikis in a supportive on-line environment
    • To set appropriate tasks and to guide and monitor progress
    • To evaluate motivation, as well as formal and informal learning

    Classroom Conversations

    difficults1.gif

    I’ve been contemplating Anne’s feedback on my draft research plan. She commented that it would be:¬†

    ‘…………. interesting to keep an eye on gender issues (what is the gender breakdown of your group?), and on the kids‚Äô reported use of social websites, etc at home’

    Well … there are 26 pupils in the class – and the gender breakdown is half and half (Stuart F has recently moved to another school).

    We had a conversation in class recently because I wanted to know if any of them used social websites. I thought that the answer would be that the the majority were using MSN, and that none were using MySpace or Bebo. I was honestly surprised at the response, and began to scribble down notes because I wanted to record the conversations as accurately as possible. Here’s a breakdown of the conversation ….

    MSN users … 16 pupils out of the 26¬†( 11 girls and 5 boys) use MSN regularly. 7 girls and 1 boy use MSN daily. The rest use it at least weekly and there was no real difference between the boy / girl ratio.

    None of the children use ‘MySpace’, but 11 of them said that they had Bebo accounts (6 girls and 4 boys). None of them used Bebo daily, but they did all use it at least 2 or 3 times a week.

    ¬†When I asked them about their preference to using Bebo¬†versus their Individual Blogs, I was really surprised that they thought that the Bebo site was ‘safer’. They thought that it was safer because they had all opted to choose the ‘only friends can see my page’ option. They felt that there were no worries about ‘strangers’ looking at their site – they were in control? They mentioned that the ‘public’ option on Bebo was for older people (bigger brothers and sisters).

    ……… so do they feel uncomfortable with their individual blogs?? Too exposed?

    The Long (and winding) Road Continues :)

    fars1.gif

    ¬†Next term, we’ll have a 4th year B’ed student in class. Miss L visited¬†us last week and was very keen to set up her own blog so that she could become involved in our ‘community’ (???).¬†¬†

    Her blog (set up with the help of P7 pupls) can be visited here

    I’ve set up my ¬†own blog¬†, too now …… and¬†the¬†children have been very quick to comment and offer their support on both blogs ūüôā

    I’ve also had an interesting conversation with a pupil¬†who has difficulty with spelling. She¬†is building an¬†online¬†friendship with some new ‘peers’¬†in Australia and during our discussion she was keen to point out that she now uses various strategies to improve her spelling. She made it clear that she didn’t care about spelling so much when it ‘just appeared in a jotter’ …. using her blog has¬†given her a real audience.¬†

    The members of this new¬†audience are the same age and sex as she is¬† …….. and they care about the presentation of their work¬†

    ………… ¬†peer pressure of the best kind??

    Even more questions to answer ūüôā

    Let The Journey Begin!

    I’m on my way now, after having received ‘research design’ feedback from Anne.¬† Thanks, Anne ūüôā

    Here’s some of Anne’s suggestions:

    ¬†……….. As to methodology, the case study does seem to be the most important method. You are quite right to point out the limitations of surveys in a study such as this. As you rightly observe, you‚Äôll get far more out of informal class discussions and more focussed discussions in small groups.

    ………It will be interesting to keep an eye on gender issues (what is the gender breakdown of your group?), and on the kids‚Äô reported use of social websites, etc at home.

    When it comes to data analysis, presumably you’re interested in breadth (the number of posts and range of interlocutors) as well as depth (the duration of the interaction and the deepening of the topic). It will be interesting to see whether there are any gender differences here, and in the nature of the subject matter.

    When it comes to what is being said in posts and comment, you’ll need to devise some kind of coding framework that will help you categorise your data. This will be refined as you progress through the study.

    It’s very helpful … and I’ll contemplate all the advice carefully.

    Looking at ‘gender’ issues was also mentioned by¬†Jackie Marsh¬†in her email response to my ‘advice plea’. She also put me in touch with Peter W¬†who has offered support¬† … much¬† appreciated ūüôā

    Methodology Questions …. Even More Thoughts?

    questions.jpg

      Elements of a Case Study:
    ‚ÄĘRich, vivid and holistic description (‚Äėthick description‚Äô) and portrayal of events, contexts and situations through the eyes of participants (including the researcher) ‚Ķ. all involved: me,¬† pupils (both in my own school and other schools e.g. Australian ‚ÄėAllStars‚Äô), ¬†parents and other adults who comment
    ‚ÄĘContexts are temporal, physical, organizational, institutional, interpersonal ‚Ķ describes the blogs well?
    ‚ÄĘChronological narrative –¬† definately ‚Äėfits‚Äô well
    ‚ÄĘtell the story – also fits well with what I want to do¬†

    The Course Textbook, however, reminds us that there are also Problems with Case Studies (my thoughts on how to overcome these problems are in ‚Äėblue‚Äô)¬†

    • Organisation difficulties (hopefully this won‚Äôt be too much of a problem because of RSS feeds to enable tracking posts)
    • Limited generalisability (because of the nature of the study, I hope to identify general trends e.g. gender issues if applicable ‚Ķ but only within this particular group of pupils. No claim will be made that the same effect would happen with a different set of pupils in another class situation)
    • Problems of cross-checking (using a variety of data gathering techniques should address the ‚Äėcross-checking‚Äô issue)
    • Risk of bias, selectivity and subjectivity (I have asked the depute head in school to meet regularly to discuss the research. She is very skeptical about the use of blogging and admits that she sees no difference between what I‚Äôm doing and allowing the pupils to freely use other social networks such as ‚ÄėMy Space‚Äô or ‚ÄėBebo‚Äô. We have a good working relationship generally, so it won‚Äôt be perceived as a ‚Äėthreatening situation‚Äô J. Kim P, a teacher from Sidney, whose pupils also blog, has agreed to be my ‚Äėcritical friend‚Äô during the research period. Some of our pupils communicate with each other regularly through their blogs)

     Data Gathering Techniques used in Case Studies:

    • Observations (structured to unstructured) (regular RSS feed checks in order to observe who is posting, commenting)
    • Field notes (what is being said? Are the comments building on what‚Äôs been posted, or are they written in ‚Äėisolation‚Äô ‚Äď e.g. Hi, how are you doing? Type of comment)
    • Interviews (structured to unstructured) (necessary, in order to establish that my view of what I‚Äôm reading is correct. Informal interviews can be held in class, formal interviews will ensure anonymity if required and will be useful for gathering data from pupils in Australia via teacher e-mail)
    • Documents (?….)
    • Numbers (although mainly a ‚Äėqualitative‚Äô study, some numbers will be included ‚Ķ.¬† explanation to follow!)

    Triangulation

    This will be used to ensure that I don‚Äôt ‚Äėjust see what I‚Äôm looking for‚Äô. Discussing my perception of events with my ‚Äėskeptical colleague‚Äô (depute head) and my ‚Äėcritical friend‚Äô (Kim P from Australia ) will be one way of ‚Äėkeeping my feet on the ground‚Äô.¬† There will also be data collected from a variety of sourcesand in a number of ways over time in order that information gathered can be compared and contrasted. This should ensure enough information can be made available in order to answer the research question.

    Stages in a Case Study:

    • Start with a wide field of focus ( I will look closely at the ‚Äėbig picture‚Äô. Who is posting and commenting? Who are receiving comments and from whom? What is being said in posts and comments?)

    ·        Progressive focusing (a closer look at comments in order to establish any formal / informal learning taking place. Distribution of questionnaires. Holding of formal and informal interviews in order to verify my interpretation of events)

    • Draft interpretation/report (avoid generalizing too early). (on-going discussions with skeptical friend / critical friend)

    Research Methodologies ….. It's Beginning to Dawn?

    What’s the main methodology of the research?

    I’ve been reading about the different methodologies, and here’s where I’m at so far.

    These ‘Blue Sky’ font thoughts are mine ……¬†all other ideas are taken ¬†from the main course textbook or the companion website

    Will it be ….

    A survey?
    An experiment?
    An in-depth ethnography??
    Action research?
    Case study research?
    Testing and assessment?
    ………. or what? ¬†ūüôā

    I’ve chosen a ¬†‘case study’ …¬†¬†because it’s:

    ‚ÄĘa unique instance designed to illustrate a more general principle …. an (on-line) learning community (community of practice??). There’s plenty of¬† info. out there about this ‘general principle’
    ‚ÄĘthe study of an instance in action¬† – pupils have ‘ownership’ and how they use that ‘ownership’¬†can be studied
    ‚ÄĘthe study of an evolving situation – bloggs are ‘going somewhere’ … diaries/learning logs?
    ‚ÄĘthe portrayal of ¬†‚Äėwhat it’s like‚Äô to be in a particular situation – ‘real’ accounts of ‘real’ ¬†pupils’ thoughts

     Elements of a Case Study:
    ‚ÄĘRich, vivid and holistic description (‚Äėthick description‚Äô) and portrayal of events, contexts and situations through the eyes of participants (including the researcher) …. all involved: me,¬† pupils (both in my own school and other schools e.g. Australian ‘AllStars’), ¬†parents and other adults who comment
    ‚ÄĘContexts are temporal, physical, organizational, institutional, interpersonal … describes the blogs well?
    ‚ÄĘChronological narrative –¬† definately ‘fits’ well
    ‚ÄĘtell the story – also fits well with what I want to do

      
    Strengths Of Case Studies
    Can establish cause and effect;
    Rooted in real contexts;
    Regard context as determinant of behaviour;
    The whole is more than the sum of the parts (holism);
    Strong on reality;
    Recognize and accept complexity,uniqueness and unpredictability;
    Lead to action (link to action research);
    Can focus on critical incidents;
    Written in accessible style and are immediately intelligible;
    Practicable (can be done by a single researcher);
    Can permit generalizations and application to similar situations;

    HOWEVER!!

    Problems With Case Studies
    Difficult to organize;
    Problems of cross-checking;
    Risk of bias, selectivity and subjectivity; 

    Points to note from elsewhere on the website ….. just to keep me on my toes ūüôā

    Validity in qualitative research often concerns: honesty, richness, authenticity, depth, scope, subjectivity, strength of feeling, catching uniqueness, idiographic statements.   

    Reliability in qualitative research often concerns: accuracy, fairness, dependability, comprehensiveness, respondent validation, ‚Äėcheckability‚Äô, empathy, uniqueness, explanatory and descriptive potential, confirmability.

    Next post concerns: 

    Data In Case Studies:
    Observations (structured to unstructured);
    Field notes;
    Interviews (structured to unstructured);
    Documents;
    Numbers.  

    Triangulation:
    Time;
    Place;
    Methodologies;
    Instrumentation;
    Researchers;
    Participants;
    Theory (interpretive paradigms/lenses).  

    Stages In Case Studies:
    Start with a wide field of focus;
    Progressive focusing;
    Draft interpretation/report (avoid generalizing too early).        

    Lots more thinking to do before before that sun rises ūüôā

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    Am I Going In The Right Direction?

    Orienting Decisions

    1.      Why do I want to research this particular area?

    In order to answer this I will ‚Äėre-visit‚Äô my last UOP module and highlight some of the main findings that led to me want to do this research. I’ve already discussed this HERE

    2. Who might want to use the research ‚Äď is there an ‚Äėaudience‚Äô?

    The first answer to this question has to be, ‚Äėme‚Äô!

    I recently wrote a¬†blog post ¬†about¬†¬†Konrad Glogowski ‘s work.¬†His thesis focussed on the use of blogging communities in education. His work was with pupils a little older than mine (I teach p7 – his pupils are 13 – 14). I‚Äôm looking forward to seeing if his ideas can work successfully in my own situation.

    The findings will have a direct impact on how I use web 2 tools with future classes ….. and¬†our school development plan for this session includes the setting up of blogs for all primary 7 and 6 stages.

    Some teachers¬†are keen to do this, others are sceptical (the Depute Head has agreed to be my ‚Äėsceptical friend’!).¬†I suspect that other¬†educators¬†who have set up individual blogs for their own pupils might be interested in the research results?¬†I think that the pupils and their parents will also be interested?

    3. Will Participants know how the research will be used and do they have the right to refuse to take part?

    I have already discussed the research proposal informally with the pupils and at a recent Parent Evening it was mentioned casually (with no objections). I will contact all participants more formally very soon to give precise details of the research plan and ask for their permission to include them. They will have the opportunity to withdraw at any time.

    4. How do I protect those who may be identifiable in the research?

    The pupils have ‚Äėblogging rules‚Äô embedded in each of their individual blogs. I will refer to the pupils‚Äô blogs throughout the research but this will be using the same rules as the pupils use (first names only, etc.)

    5.  What time scale is involved?

    Monday 12 November ‚Äď Sunday 25 November:

    Study the various methods available for data collection
    Appreciate the difference between qualitative and quantitative data
    Consider the different approaches required for qualitative and quantitative data
    Decide on the best method/s of data collection for the project

    Monday 26 November ‚Äď Sunday 16 December¬†

    Consider the different methods of data analysisDecide which methods of analysis will be most appropriate for the project
    Investigate different methods for presentation of data
    Consider how analysis of Findings leads to Conclusions and Implications
    Finalise the design for the research plan

    Monday 7 January ‚Äď Sunday 27 January¬†¬†
     Review of Literature. 

     Monday 28 January РSunday 10 February     

    Revise research plan
    Revise literature review
    Implement research plan                   

    Monday 11 February РSunday 24 February        

    Implementation of research plan
    Discussion of issues arising on ‚ÄėBlackboard‚Äô¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†

    Monday 25 February ‚Äď Sunday 9 March¬†

    Confirm with tutor that research plan is on timeImplementation of research plan
    Discussion of issues arising on Blackboard
    Decide on methods of presenting findings                                       

    ¬†Monday 10 March ‚Äď Sunday 30 March

    Implementation of research plan
    Consider likely findings, conclusions and implications  

    Monday 31 March ‚Äď Sunday 20 April¬†
    Prepare findings
    Completion of research plan
    Begin preparation of dissertation                                                       

    ¬†Monday 21 April ‚Äď Sunday 18 May
    Completion of Dissertation. 
    Submit bound copy of dissertation to the University by Monday 19 May        

     

    Yippee! …. except I have to actually do all the hard work in-between ūüôā¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

    A Maze of Questions!

    Is the research going to be useful?

    Who might want to use the research?

    Is there an ‘audience’?

    Will participants know how the research will be used?

    What time scale is involved?

    Do participants have the right to refuse to answer or take part?

    How do I balance all interests in the research?

    Are the aims focussed enough to answer the research question?

    How do I protect those who may be identified/identifiable in the research?

    ¬†Anyone out there ūüôā

    A Busy Day!

    ¬†I’m still reflecting on my last post –¬†meanwhile I contacted¬†Jackie Marsh¬†and she had this to say ..

    “I have had a look at the blogs and they are great! I like the way you are letting the children drive the use of the blogs, that is so important if they are going to be successful”¬†¬†Her reply gave me a ‘confidence boost’ that maybe I’m on some sort of ‘right track’ ūüôā

    She also had this to say:

    An interesting area to explore would be gendered representations of identity, it strikes me just from the pictures the children have used!

    More to think about ūüôā

    She gave me a link to Another Blog … but I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.

    Chatter, Informal Learning, Formal Learning?

    I’ve begun taking¬†a closer look at some of the P7V learnerblogs¬†to try to differentiate between what can be construed as ‘chatter’, ‘informal learning’ and ‘formal learning’.

    The ‘weemee’¬†links below will take you to some posts I’ll try to¬†analyse:

    wee-monica.png      wee-darrenm.png    wee-fraserm.png 

      weeninam.png     weecourtneya3.png     weejaydeanc.png

    I’ll need to¬†contemplate this some more ūüôā …….

    Tutor Feedback!

    I’ve received feedback from my tutor and she’s given permission¬†for it to be posted on¬†this blog so¬†I’ve included part of it here:

    “……….My starting hypothesis would be that those who work in an online environment would be a self-selecting group of fairly self-sufficient individuals, in which case there might not be a lot of chatter in the system. There is, I think, some danger that the success of the environment is judged by the volume of chatter, which I think would be a mistake. There’s also a thing about work process, and the extent people want to share their deliberations. Not everyone is the same. In our group, there are people who email me directly; and there are others who prefer the Discussion Board. And these things will vary according to contingent factors. Work pressures will mean that some people will prioritise the Discussion Board over responding to individual emails; and others will do the opposite; and yet others will do one thing some of the time and the other at different times, in a rhythm that is difficult to predict. An online environment can’t be successful if it imposes a work pattern………. Anne”

    In considering Anne’s response, I’ve tried to analyse the online environment created through the use of our class blog, individual blogs and wikispaces. I need to respond in ‘bite sized pieces’, though (because there’s a lot to digest!) so¬†it¬†may take a few posts to respond to all the points.

    This post includes my first thoughts about just a bit of the feedback:

    I agree totally with Anne’s interpretation of our adult use of the Blackboard learning environment for the Chartered Teacher course at University of Paisley. I’ve never felt comfortable using the Discussion Boards (even after 4 years of studying in that environment) but have always been an ‘