Teachmeet 09 at BETT

Posted on January 17th, 2009 in conferences | 1 Comment »

Another year another BETT another Teachmeet

As Lisa Stevens said in her teachmeet talk it’s amazing how much you can learn in a year. Last year at Teachmeet the only person I vaguely knew was Drew Buddie. He introduced me to a couple of people and a few weeks later when we met again he told me to join twitter and start a blog. This year at Teachmeet I was down on the list to present, had been volunteered to run the flashmeeting and be cameraman and finally met 10-20 people that I had met online via twitter but never in person. It really is amazing how much of a network you can build up and how much you can learn in a year!

My talk didn’t get picked by the random name picker at teachmeet this year so I thought I’d write up here what I might have done.

First of all I wasn’t sure what to offer to present so I created a twitter poll on polldaddy and asked my twitter network to choose, you can see the results here

I won’t explain them all so here’s a selection that I’ll try and sum up in a few sentences each.

1. Using google sites: This is already written up on a previous post which you can read about here

2. Using audacity to make revision songs:  GCSE ICT class coming up to exams. I had a lot of musical students in the class so we wrote a couple of revision songs, got a guitar and recorded using audacity. One song was made up, the other we re-wrote the words of “fields of gold” to talk about databases! For advice on using audacity check out Jose Picardo’s blog. Nb. Audacity is a free open source audio recording and editing application.

3. Running a teachmeet style inset at school: In our January inset I organised a one hour long teachmeet style inset (Rickrolling Reflections). 10 staff members volunteered to speak and gave presentations on all kinds of things such as using drama games in class and techniques for questioning with students. We had prizes for the top 3 presentations. Despite the hall being an icy 14C it was a great hour or so.

4. China Masterclass using digital video and VLE for communication and collaboration: This is written up at length in a previous blog post here.

5. Creating cartoon strips with digital cameras: Get a class to draw a storyboard for a cartoon. Take them outside with digital cameras and get them to photograph each other acting out the scenes from the storyboard. Back in classroom take photos, put in powerpoint or other software, add speech bubbles, modify or edit photos where necessary. For extension work record audio to go with cartoon!

6. Teaching kids to fill out forms for nectar cards: I had a lesson on ICT in supermarkets and loyalty cards with a tricky year 8 class (aged 12/13). Two boys just weren’t interested and I couldn’t get them to complete any of the work. Instead I took them to the Nectar card website and got them to find out about Nectar cards. They both applied for one and in the process learnt to fill in an online form. I just assumed this would be easy but it took a while with questions like “Sir what do we put in the title box?” We also discussed who it was safe to share this information with and whether to tick the boxes allowing them to send you further mail. Both boys learn a very useful life skill. Once they had applied they learnt how the card worked, how to collect points and how much shopping they’d need to buy to get a free computer game. Great numeracy skills! I’m not sure I’d get a whole class to do this especially as you’re supposed to be 18 to get a Nectar card, but I guess that’s another life skill.

Using Google Sites in School

Posted on December 26th, 2008 in VLE | 8 Comments »

We’ve recently created accounts for every student at Google apps for education. We registered a new domain for this at www.rickyschool.com . This provides e-mail, google docs, google start page, google calendar and google sites for all users. I’m still not 100% sure what it will be used for long term but I am convinced there are so many potential applications. Tom Barrett’s blog gives many of his examples of use and I’m sure few of these were thought of by the developers or even by Tom when he first started.

My first week with google sites has been rather inspiring. It’s a nifty and simple tool for building websites. It’s so easy to use and it’s got loads of features built in. It has plenty of great, pretty, ready made templates (all fully customisable). It also makes it really easy to embed google docs, youtube videos and loads of other widgets. Apart from ease of use it’s also collaborative. If you have a school wide google apps setup, pages are by default editable by all users (though it’s very easy to turn this off). There are four great ways I can envision google sites being used for schools.

  1. For students to create great looking websites for school projects.

  2. For students to work collaboratively on school projects.

  3. For students to create their own personal online spaces.

  4. For students to have online eportfolios of work.

Though google sites is a potentially great and simple solution to creating eportfolios (there is a ready made template available when a new page is created called “filing cabinet” for placing files in) I am most excited about number 3. It’s my ‘dream’ to have a VLE that is customisable and editable by students. Sadly this is very hard to achieve as most VLEs are teacher run and allowing students to run their own personal spaces individually can be very tricky to set up. (Though I have seen some commercial VLEs that allow this although not without problems). Google sites let students create sites about whatever they want and when a site is created a user can label the page with one or more categories. When users view a list of all sites they see a list of all categories and can choose ones they are interested in. Though we’ll have to train students to use sites sensibly and monitor any problems this could be the online student space I have been looking for.

Google sites, lots of potential for teaching and learning but even more potential for students creating their own content and personal space.

To see a little more about google sites take a look at this short screencast introduction I made earlier.

Update: Thanks for the comments- Lisa Thumann put a link to this useful presentation