Sir Ken Robinson’s talk at Learning without frontiers (March 16th 2011) is entitled ‘Out of our minds: Learning to be creative’. It is about valuing the arts in the redesign of education. View an edited version here:
Marie Kennedy is a prep teacher at St. Luke the Evangelist School, Blackburn South, Victoria. Marie and her prep students’s class blog, Learning Together, is a wonderful example of how web 2.0 tools can be used to support and extend teaching and learning, and as a way to make connections:
I started my class blog following the SLAV Personal Learning Network PD I was a part of early in 2010, where I had learnt so much about Web 2.0 tools and the many benefits of blogging for Learning and Teaching. I was excited about the potential for local and global collaboration and creating strong links between home and school. I had always used ‘myclasses’ as a way to communicate with parents about what was happening in the classroom however I could see the enormous potential of creating a class blog.
As a Prep teacher I spend a lot of time modelling how to use a blog. Through this modelling the students are learning important protocols and safe behaviours when navigating the online world. I am responsible for posting photos, writing most of the posts and moderating comments. My students take part by sharing reflections on their learning using tools such as voicethread, wallwisher and videos. I share their writing, reading, maths and art through slideshows. My students also become involved in commenting. I model the process and at this early stage of the year I type their thoughts and ideas. My students are articulating to a global community what they have discovered helping them to consolidate and deepen their understandings. Many visitors to our blog ask interesting questions that extends the students thinking and challenges them to consider new perspectives. These are some of the powerful advantages of blogging.
While we have had success reaching out to the global community one of the challenges of blogging is involving our parent community. My major aim for developing a class blog was to connect with parents and families. To provide a springboard for conversation at home about what is happening at school and how the students are thinking and learning. While some parents do visit and comment I have had limited success with this. As a school we are hoping to provide a parent night on blogging to address this issue.
Blogging allows for authentic and rich conversation both within and beyond our school community.
Thankyou, Marie, for sharing your fantastic work, and the work of your students. I particularly like how visually appealing Learning Together is, with the images of your students and their work. Your adopted pet Freddie, the spider, is a cute extra on the blog and a good way to create interest in any blog (e.g. name the virtual pet or avatar). Learning Together provides uses of web 2.0 tools that will offer inspiration to many.
A maths dictionary for kids, by Jenny Eather, is an interactive dictionary where over 600 mathematical terms are explained in simple language, with easy-to-follow diagrams. For example, if a student wanted to know about an acute angle, they will discover it is ‘an angle mearsuring less than 90 degrees’. A pelican is used to show the acute angles the student requests, with a fish jumping in the pelicans mouth when the angle is made. Further to acute angles, the student can create other angles. Reflex angles are explained if the student chooses to create an angle between 180 and 360 degrees.
This is a great resource for high primary school students and junior – middle secondary school students. Ideally, students working on computers would have this open for quick reference. Terms are listed in alphabetical order. Teachers coud use this dictionary when introducing a new concept.
March has continued to see tower defense games being played in our secondary school library before school and at lunchtimes (and during class time if they can sneak it). Bloons Tower Defense has taken a back-seat this month to Plants vs Zombies. This game is free, has 50 levels, and five game modes:
As the promotors say ‘Get ready to soil your plants!’. This is a fun game where the player needs to defend their home from Zombies, using plants that each have their own defensive and offensive capabilites. Although this may not be your cup-of-tea, it is good to know what the students are playing to open-up conversation. For example, I’m sure the students would have something to say if you walked up and asked if they have planted any Scaredy-Shroons to stop the Zombies from eating their brains (just make sure they are the students who play these games first!).
NB: Students at Mooroopna Secondary College (Victoria) are able to use the library before school, at lunchtime, and after school to play games as long as these are not deemed to be violent by the staff.
Louise McInerney is a teacher librarian and library coordinator at Kilbreda College, Mentone, Victoria. The library website of Kilbreda College has a wonderful catalogue of resources the library can provide, but, as Louise says ‘we also include links to six local public libraries on our Catalogue page’. In doing so, the students are not only equipped to use the vast collection of the college, they are provided with a list of libraries close to them, and are able to access their catalogues from the one webpage. The students of Kilbreda College are at an advantage in the search for great resources, and it is one that other school libraries can easily adopt by enlisting the services of their local libraries.
Kilbreda College Library website has other great features, such as the activities section offering a reading program, plenty of competitions, bookclubs, and links to bookreview sites. There is also a great section for teachers, and a thorough resource section, with links to news websites, databases, and the college’s subject resources. Have a look at the website for further inspiration to providing students with the resources they need:
Thankyou Louise for sharing your ideas on providing for the students, and creating connections with community libraries.
ArtsAlive.ca is the performing arts educational website by the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It is an amazing site that, among other things, has performing arts related resources for teachers and students. ArtsAlive.ca has heaps of great tools for teachers of music, theatre, dance, and collections (costumes, etc.):
The virtual dance studio is amazing. Students can choreograph their own dance compositions by putting together beginning, middle, and end sequences of dance movement. They can choose from female ballet, male modern dance, or female modern dance.
A creative blog for art teachers is the seventh string byDavid Hulston (England). Hulston has 20 years of experience working in education, and brings this to his blog. The blog provides examples of art creations by different year levels that will inspire art teachers. There are some beautiful creations, such as ‘Never underestimate the power of dreams’ that uses multimedia to capture students playing with shadows. Have a look at the blog below and be inspired:
The below poster was created by Karlisson Bezzera (Brazil), a blogger who goes under the name of Nerdson. Bezerra manages to explain creative commons in an easy-to-follow comic strip. The text has been translated from the original Portugese (not by myself!). This poster has been moving around the world wide web. It would be perfect to have up in the library and computer rooms.