Thursday, May 22, 2008

Working in Ancient Egypt

Every now and then when you get to the end of the day and you ask yourself, what did I achieve today, there is a feeling of quiet satisfaction that you might have actually made a difference. Today was one of those days when I feel like I actually might have made a difference to a fellow teacher's practice. I have been working in the classroom with her for the past two weeks. Her students are working on a Humanities unit and are studying Ancient Egypt. Her original plan was to have the students present their ideas in the traditional project format. You know the one, where they create slabs of text, find pictures on the internet or in a text book and paste it all prettily on a large sheet of cardboard. Not terribly inspiring and somewhat dangerous...I smell slabs of text pasted from the internet in the air.
But a couple of days ago I suggested that perhaps we could come up with another way for the students to gather and present their understandings. And so was born the discoveregypt wiki. Today I sat with her and we worked on developing this new wiki which will see the students work in cooperative groups to gather and present information and ideas around their understandings of Ancient Egypt. I am quietly hopeful that this new idea will ensure a higher level of thinking, of expectation and of collaboration. It's very early days and the students haven't really started working on it yet but over the next 6 weeks or so I hope we will create something that is engaging, valuable and interesting.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blogging letter to parents

This week I have been spending quite a bit of time preparing a class blog and individual blogs for students in Grade 3/4. I have also been trying to get my head around Wordpress. I have avoided it up until now as in the past every time I tried to set something up I would run into problems. But this time I was determined to beat it as I expect that we will be using edublogs, learnerblog, globalteacher and globalstudent for blogging when all Victorian schools sign up for the Ultranet. I'm happy to say I think I'm getting there. But what was very helpful was a link that my colleague Anne Mirtschin sent to me as well as some very helpful twittering from ictguy.
Click on this link to get a very useful pdf tutorial on Edublogs which used Wordpress. The next step was to compose a letter to our parents to explain the process and ensure that they understand and are comfortable with their students entering the blogging world. Here are some examples that budtheteacher has posted to his wiki . Check out all the other samples and ideas that he has. Well worth a few hours exploration.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Global teacher and global student

Over the weekend I have been creating a new blogging site for our students in Grade 3/4. The decision about which site to choose was tricky. I wanted a site that would be safe and educationally sound and easily managed as I would be encouraging young students to blog. I was thinking of 21 classes as it was recommended to me by an American colleague. I investigated it and while it was certainly educationally sound I felt that I was going to take quite a while to work out how to set it all up. Then an Aussie colleague suggested using Global students. This is a research site conducted by the The Victorian Education Channel (DE&T Victoria) and The School Library Association of Victoria. It offers lots of support and connections to other teachers and their students. It also offers a specific blog where teachers can add blog posts to showcase what they are doing with their students.