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Friday, 20 August 2010

GarageBand, Jamendo and Creative Commons

Last year a colleague of mine, who is a very accomplished musician, began to use GarageBand for recording and mixing music tracks. This work lead to the creation of an amazing album and didn't stop there. After many hours of hard work he then uploaded the album, entitled Boats on the Bay, to Jamendo. Jamendo is an online musical platform community, that allows artists to upload their work and share it with the world. Listeners have the option to listen online as well as download the music to their computers. Jamendo automatically licenses all work under Creative Commons.

What a fantastic example of a teacher using digital technology to create, publish and share their work through one of the many great web services available. Not only is his work now published online for all to enjoy, but our students are able to access it along with all the other albums on the site, for use in their digital projects. You can imagine how exciting it must be for them to be able to use the published works of one of their very own teachers. The next step will be to focus on getting students involved in composing, recording and publishing their own masterpieces.

I have included a link to the album.  Please feel free to listen in.

Boats on the Bay1.200

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Back to School Resolutions

Screen shot 2010-08-12 at 11.47.36 AM

My action plan for 2010-11 is pretty jam packed and possibly over ambitious. It would be impractical to mention it all, but when I think about the upcoming school year, certainly several goals come to mind.

  1. 3D Constructions-Sketchup is a powerful program offered by Google for Free. It is fairly user friendly and allows for  design and construction in 3D. The 3D Warehouse is full of great pieces that can be added to furnish, landscape and basically embellish work. The possibilities are endless really. All one needs is a topic that would be greatly enhanced through it use. One that comes to mind is an English unit which has students design an author's room, as the culminating activity in an author study.

  2. The virtual worlds I want to use with my students are: Quest Atlantis -has some new units that would be perfect for work in Life Skills, Second Life, Google Maps and Earth to continue with the  virtual tours work we did last year (Did you know you can embed code into Google Earth text boxes!), Reaction Grid for working on in-world 3D thematic constructions, and possibly a compilation of a student gallery.

  3. Collaborative Projects are going to be big for us this year both internally and in conjunction with other schools. I met quite a few wonderful educators at ISTE who have already started the ball rolling on this by linking up their teachers with us. The next step is to begin pairing up teachers and projects at both ends. There are so many options for this: wikis, blogs, Nings, Elluminate, Skype, not to mention all the Google Apps.

  4. Programming with Scratch with 7th and 8th grades-We began this last year and made quite a bit of headway. We are now in a position to push up the Scratch learning curve for both teachers and students.

  5. PLN's for staff-Okay this is terribly ambitious and I don't expect to get everyone on board, but there are now certain members of staff who are ready to take this next important step in lifelong learning.

  6. We will need to continue to support current reading club through our Reading Club wiki and find new ways to promote reading with students.

  7. Update and expand the LRC, ABCICT and Web Fluency wikis and make best use of them with staff and students and parents. These sites are important learning hubs, full of activities and resources as well as one of your main means of communication with the school community.

  8. Continue with our push on information literacy for students, and bring new staff members on board.

  9. Continue work with student digital portfolio wikis and ensure that staff members are aware and on board with making best use of them.

It is all about teamwork and careful planning. Teachers are key to this, and the greater the variety the richer experiences become. It is also time to get the kids on board at the planning level whenever possible. When they have a hand in directing their learning powerful things happen. I have huge expectations for the upcoming school year and look forward to all the challenges and successes and yes even the odd failures when they occur. It is all part of the learning experience.
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