Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Competition for kids

As you may be aware Christchurch has been hit by a series of devasting earthquakes over the last two years (we had a 3.9 one on Monday this week). The Central city and East Christchurch were badly hit. Many of the schools in these areas suffered and have now got smaller rolls. The Minister of Education announced, late last year, a lot of changes for some of the Christchurch schools. This has been very unsettling for all concerned as many teachers are losing the jobs. What changes go ahead will be announced soon.

Hey kids! We need your help to make Christchurch the coolest little city in the world. We’re running a competition this year to get you thinking – and creating. There are fantastic prizes up for grabs for you and your school. Plus you’ll have bragging rights forever that you helped make the new central city an amazing place.
It is really apposite as many of our schools are rebuilding their grounds and while they are designing the city playground (older children have other projects to work on).

How wonderful to include the children of our city in our city rebuild.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Kizoa is a great Web 2 tool to use in the classroom. The students can create slideshows, collage and edit graphics. This is a free tool to use. Once completed the students can save the collage for example to their hard drive (this is not part of the free membership, you need to pay a fee) or share it online through their blog (free). With the slideshows you can put in text, music, animation and other special effects, there are all sorts of possibilities to customize your slideshow! Be careful to only use the free tools and effects if you plan to share your creations.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Knowmia is a web site for teachers where they can upload their videos so that the students are able to access them.

Ariel Braunstein and Scott Kabat developed this web site so that teachers could share experiences and resources with each other.

There are some great case studies with interviews with teachers who are successfully using these videos in their classrooms.

There is a large database of videos that teachers can access and use with their students.

For those using a flipped classroom approach with their students Knowmia has, coming soon, a simple home assignment tool. For each assignment you will be able to include a series of lessons that you create or find in their ever growing lesson database. Homework may include three types of assessments: multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, and textbook questions (questions from textbooks that your students already use). Once you send out an assignment, you will be able to keep track of your students' actions and performance: When did they open the assignment? How did they answer each question? Which concepts require additional help and/or practice? Although the actions of your students are completely private and secure (visible only to you), the homework itself is shared instantly with other teachers so they can learn from you and borrow any portions of it for their own students. You may opt to do likewise with their assignments and lessons.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Wordle is a commonly used word cloud (it was one of the first around) but I wonder how many use Tagxedo. I know I have written about this one before but I think that many still don't know about this one.

With this cloud you can have the words shaped (for example I have used an angel) and also you can save it as a jpg file onto your hard drive which is not possible with other word clouds. All of this is free.  You can customise the colour, the theme and the shape to suit what you are doing.  I know that children will love using this one.

Hardy Leung has done a presentation to show you how to use Tagxedo in 101 ways! Each way gives you an illustration to show an example.  Very useful for classroom teachers for ideas to use in their classrooms.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Web 2 tools

A great new book by Professor Dr Mohamed Amin which he has made available is this 40 Must Know Web 2 tools. This book explains what the tool is,  benefits of using this tool, ways of using the tool in teaching and learning.

40 Must-know Web 2.0 Edutools

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


A useful tool for the classroom is Ginger.

Ginger corrects spelling and grammar mistakes based on the context of your complete sentences by comparing each sentence to billions of similar sentences from the web.

Ginger is integrated with MS Office and most web browsers which ensures that your work is correct. It will scan a whole document for you. This programme is free.

There is an educational package which is not free (you pay a license fee per pupil per year).

I have not used this package but they say:

    Ginger is the only tool that tracks students’ errors across writing assignments providing ongoing assessment of the students’ work. Ginger’s Personalized Learning Tutor identifies common patterns of mistakes in the students’ writing and automatically creates a personalized learning program with tailored lessons and quizzes for each student and/or class. Ginger provides an unprecedented level of differentiated instruction customized to the student/class’ needs.

Ginger gives students a tool to become stronger writers:
•Correct grammar, spelling, and usage errors
•Correct whole sentences in a single click
•View sample expressions to accompany alternatives
 •Text-to-Speech – hear your texts read out loud
 •Tools to help you learn from your mistakes
 •Lessons and quizzes based on your progress

Educators are provided with:
 •Reports quantifying users’ most frequent errors
•Categorized analysis of users’ error types
 •Individualized instruction tool customized to student/class level
•An invaluable tool for monitoring students’ needs and progress
•The ability to evaluate instruction methods

Friday, October 26, 2012

Free tools to use in the classroom

David Andrade has put up a very useful slideshow which features 25 tools you can use in the classroom to enhance the thinking and learning. These are free resources from Discovery Education.

There are many resources here which although are aimed at science can be used for other curriculum areas as well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The flipped classroom

I have just been reading Terry Freedman's thoughts on the Flipped Classroom. I have also written about this idea before and while reading Terry's article I found I still think that we also need to think about the student.

Taking the idea of the flipped classroom whereby the student is able to watch videos of the teacher lecturing or explaining things thereby freeing up class time so that the teacher then becomes the facilitator of the learning environment, has some discussing this concept as though it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. However my own thoughts are do we want well rounded people or not. The amount of time these students are being asked to carry out school tasks out of school hours becomes greater and greater. How about a life???

I prefer Terry's concepts where he talks about the things we, as teachers, have always done to help students prepare for upcoming classes.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Learn Stuff

Learn Stuff is a web site which is useful for everyone not just students.

There are areas for education, health, science technology and infographics.  In addition there are helpful tips for students about how to study.

Technology has quickly become an integral part of our lives. On the web site is this graphic showing the use of technology at this time. Very interesting and makes you wonder what is going to happen in the future. Will books and paper become things of the past and only seen in museums. What will happen to libraries?  It is certainly an ever changing world particularly if you think that it was only around 50 years ago that television was first introduced into New Zealand. Computers did not make their entrance into schools until about 30 years ago and that was only in a few high schools. Certainly something like an iPad was not envisoned then but nor was it thought that people would want computers in the home (ask Bill Gates)!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The purpose of education

After the earthquakes, here in Christchurch, the minister is looking at restructuring education - see some of my earlier blog posts about this. Teachers are not happy about the proposals at the present time. Teachers, parents and children are all upset about having another change in our city. We actually all need some stability and a chance to get some normality back into our lives before more changes are forced on us. Unfortunately parts of our city were largely untouched by the earthquakes while other parts are still like a third world country. It is those parts where all the changes are proposed and the people in these parts are finding it hard enough just living from day to day without these hassles.

Schools have ten weeks to survey their parents and put forward to the Ministry their own proposals.

It might be good if the Minister looked at Steve Wheeler's slide share about the purpose of education before she makes any final decisions.