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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Braindump #2

Away from ISTE even one day later, I worry quite a bit about forgetting things that caught my attention at the conference. This list is a follow up to the previous post with those things that I thought important to investigate further. It is a do list of sorts.

 *Reminder to self about the number of cards from people I met, who expressed an interest in partnering up our students. These need be organised and followed up on, but not until August.

Interesting Ideas
I have used Voicethread a few times with students and have known about it for ages, but felt I needed a bit of a refresher and some inspiration. The session I attended was fine, not terribly challenging, but it gave me a few more ideas for uses I had not thought of. Certainly book talks are high on our lists of priorities this year and Voicethread is a  good vehicle for this as it allows for image/video uploads as well as collaboration and discussion. It can be used for debates as well, between members of a class, different classes or even different schools. A follow me story could be created with each person or team adding their image/s and chapters to it. There are plenty more uses for it, but these are some that stood out for me.

Things I Missed
One issue with an event  as big as ISTE is that you can't get to every presentation you'd like to. I remember sitting in perfectly good presentations, while TweetDeck spurted tweet after tweet at a rate of 2 per second, praising the joy and conversation of other presentations. This leads me to another job for the list, to browse through ISTE Unplugged.

High Impact
I almost missed Alan November's session  on Empathy: The 21st Century Skill.  It reminded me of things I knew and had pushed to one side, things I should be doing, and it put me to shame. This was a good thing however, as Alan talked to us about searching using site: and country codes as well as using twitter hashtags to search with in order to ensure kids are getting the full picture, understand issues from many perspectives ... I began kicking myself. I hadn't done this with my 7th grades during the Egyptian crisis project we did.  Our work seems so superficial in comparison, and it would have been a perfect unit in which to incorporate such important skills. I haven't gotten over it and that's a good thing. It means I will do better next time.

This lead me to a very important realisation.  I have used Twitter a lot for years and even taught kids to use it to record their own research in tweet format, but I have never had the kids use it to search empathetically, to pop that search bubble  that we have become encased in and find out what is really going on from all sides. Wasn't Twitter instrumental in getting ideas, experiences and news out during the Egyptian crisis...yet that wealth of information remained untapped for my students....Kick, kick, kick.,..Twitter is one of the best research tools around for getting all sides of the stories straight from those who are affected, directly involved and on the front line and at the very least for accessing media sources from around the world. When combined with smart searching using country codes and specific domains you can't go wrong, you will get the full picture.

Next Steps but Not Yet
Finally, one last thing that I can't let slip by is all the talk and excitement about iPads. They have certainly emerged as a must have for schools, There is so much that can be done with such a portable yet complete device. Hundreds of apps aside,  I saw people using their ipads in the most sensible and interesting of ways, capturing images, creating animations and other digital stories, sharing ideas, communicating with each other  and much, much more. There is one dark side however, that I was made aware of. Google Docs doesn't work properly on the iPad yet. No worries however, we have a whole school year to see if they sort out the issue or not.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

ISTE Inspiration and Possibilities so Far- List 1

What I love about ISTE
I love interacting and sharing ideas with people at sessions and the playgrounds!!!! I could do that all day long!

I love the inspiration I receive, the renewing of faith in what we are all trying to do and that little push that takes me into my zpd once again.

I am fascinated by the sheer enormity of such and event. The number of choices in sessions that are available to participate in and attend.

Two days into the conference and what have I taken away? I have a long list of  todos at this point which I am sure to add to....

My List of Todos so Far
I Must:
-Use instead of jing for student produced tutorials on small snapshot skills and make it a regular activity in and out of class. No account is needed, it is immediate and why not have their watermark on our vids...they provided the service and for free!

-Create student friendly rubrics for all units of study and instead of hitting them with the whole rubric, give them access to the whole thing and then take it in small steps, one row or so at a time depending on the week's learning objectives.

-Try a "get to know you" activity where kids share who they are with a mashup of video and photos. Note to self: think very carefully about the parking for this.

-Share Google Patents and Google Product searches with the Business and Economics teachers.

-Figure out how to make flubaroo work with Google forms and spreadsheets.

-Collect as much as possible on iPads in schools, App collections and follow the blogs of teachers implementing them. We should really be going down this road next school year once some of the bugs are fixed with Google Docs and I mean in both Primary and Secondary.

-Discuss using Amazon reviews with Languages to encourage student book review writing.

Things that Really Caught My Eye and have Added to Diigo( need further investigation)

From the Iste Google session by Howie DiBlasi
There was a lot more than this in the session, but those applications I was more familiar with. These are the ones that stood out for me:

Google transliteration:
Use google's transliteration instead of google translate,

set language preferences under Advanced Search

Wordlens of ripped and iphone, point at sign and it will translate it to your language. 

Google App Creator
sell 3d models in sketchup online(bookmark this one)  encyclopedias and information
quintura generates a word cloud of results based on search criteria.
Clusty groups or clusters information that is related.
duck duck go
Flying through the crusades-google earth  wiki lessons.
5o things to do with google maps mashup

google patents
google products product comparisons

ocarina App
play flute with ipod and iphone

Friday, 10 June 2011

School Year 2010/11

SY10/11 has been one of great success and forward momentum for the LRC and as a result, the ABC.

School year 10/11 was the first in which the LRC was able to link up teaching and learning on a larger scale with teachers and students in other schools and move forward with some exciting collaborative digital projects. There are plans for this to continue as well as to broaden the scope during the upcoming school year.

It was a year of consolidation in many ways. Students and some staff members who for several years had been working towards a comfort level with certain digital tools attained their goals this past year and are ready for next steps, building upon these skills and making further connections. It is safe to say that most students in KS3 are very comfortable with the great array of digital learning tools that they have been taught with or taught to use over the last 3 years. The current 6th grade after just one year in Secondary, is about to move up to 7th grade with the strongest of foundations of any year group, with a comfort level superior to even that of some 8th grade students, in web fluency and the use of digital media tools.

Staff members also demonstrated a greater willingness and confidence in seeking out and taking on digital projects as well as using the tools themselves. As a result there have been less requests for support than in prior years. Projects which were new to departments in the last two years have become an expected component of the curriculum and are now planned for on a yearly basis. Students and staff are also more comfortable with the ways of working in the LRC. Teachers regularly bringing classes down to read as well as work on various projects and students frequently book the resources at breaks and after school for their school work.

The ABC is now very much on the world map of forward thinking schools working with digital media. Not only are our student projects promoted through the various web presences that are managed by the LRC, in some cases they are the result of work with teachers and students in other countries. Some of the most successful work has been and will continue to be shared with educators from around the world through the various communication tools as well as through conference presentations. This too can be said of the Library specific work at the LRC and the promotion of special events, which are carefully documented and shared with the world through the same channels as well as local and international Library conferences, the blogs and other social networks of the LRC Staff members.

Cross curricular work in the LRC with departments (which is is outlined on the Vertical Schemes Site)has been further consolidated and enhanced
this year through the fine tuning of existing projects and the addition of new ones. These projects not only support and extend teaching and learning in other subjects and teach students new digital skills, but also serve to strengthen the relevance of these experiences and new skills building on those already acquired, which can be applied across a range of learning situations.

The LRC strives to enrich student life in many ways. This year it has played an even greater role in events and theme weeks, offering additional tours, interactive displays and workshops. Teachers and students from both Secondary and Primary made good use of these displays and workshops. LRC staff members also worked in unison with the Music department in organising and running Lunch on the Lawn.

The addition of the Digital Media Artist this school year proved to be very successful. Students and staff alike have gained so much from the support, new ideas and training they have received. The digital media resources and equipment collection has grown substantially this year and been well used throughout the school year. Perhaps one of the most exciting additions to the collection is the new green screen, which has been used by many students across the school to create interesting digital video projects. It is vital that the school continue to support learning by providing innovative experiences and support as well as appropriate and cutting edge equipment and resources.

The LRC book and magazine collection is well used by students and staff for reading both in and out of lessons. This past school year, more teachers have begun bringing their classes down for independent reading activities. One priority this school year was to build up the collection of Spanish language fiction books while at the same time updating English language fiction. This was possible in part due to the Scholastic book fair and book orders, as well as a substantial Spanish fiction book order. Spanish remains the focus for next year along with French and the addition of the newest titles in print and audio for the English fiction collection.

In summation, the year has been one of consolidation in some respects but also one of expansion in project work, themes, digital skills and resources. For the reasons mentioned in this report it has been the most successful year so far, not one immune to issues and obstacles, but one in which it was possible to further learning and move forward. None of this would have been possible without the constant support of school leaders, the enthusiasm of its students and teachers and the dedication, creativity and purpose of the LRC members of staff.