Science Museum

The UK’s Science Museum has some excellent online resources for teaching and learning.

Science museum

Covering ages from 3-16 (via Foundation and Key Stages 1-4) there is a variety of resources such as:

  • Foundation and Key Stage 1 (ages 3-7): sounds, bubbles and force
  • Key Stage 2 (7-11): electricity, forces and motion, light, materials and sound
  • Key Stage 3 (11-14): electricity and magnetism, energy transfer, light and materials
  • Key Stage 4 (14-16): how science works, electricity and magnetism and materials.

Each area of study includes:

  • Educational objectives
  • Key student learning
  • Materials needed
  • Practicalities
  • Open ended investigations
  • Extension work
  • Links to everyday life

Educators can also subscribe to the ‘Educators’ e-news‘ for updates. This site is highly recommended.

Bringing experts into your classroom

It can often be problematic for students to gain access to authors and other experts in their field due to location, cost, time, travel and other issues. Technologies such as Skype can help. The ability to make free calls computer to computer with the added bonus of video conferencing if users have webcams has been a boon for schools.

But Skype is not the only method available. Richard Byrne’s (@rmbyrne) wonderful Free Technology for Teachers blog outlines three other free methods for Bringing Experts into Your Classroom:

Go to the Free Technology for Teachers post Bringing Experts into Your Classroom for some fabulous free tools to explore, thanks to Richard Byrne.

Horizon Report 2010

The 2010 Horizon Report has been released. If you are new to the Horizon Report, it looks at the future impacts of technologies on teaching and learning.

The six technologies to watch that have been chosen for this year’s report are:

Near term (within 12 months)

  • Mobile computing
  • Open content

Second adoption (2-3 years)

  • Electronic books
  • Simple augmented reality

Far term (4-5 years)

  • Gesture-based computing
  • Visual data analysis

Of particular note to school libraries is possibly mobile computing and electronic books. The Horizon Report adds that:

  • Network-capable devices that students are already carrying, are already established on many campuses, although before we see widespread use, concerns about privacy, classroom management, and access will need to be addressed. At the same time, the opportunity is great; virtually all higher education students carry some form of mobile device, and the cellular network that supports their connectivity continues to grow. An increasing number of faculty and instructional technology staff are experimenting with the possibilities for collaboration and communication offered by mobile computing. Devices from smart phones to netbooks are portable tools for productivity, learning, and communication, offering an increasing range of activities fully supported by applications designed especially for mobiles.
  • Electronic books have been available in some form for nearly four decades, but the past twelve months have seen a dramatic upswing in their acceptance and use. Convenient and capable electronic reading devices combine the activities of acquiring, storing, reading, and annotating digital books, making it very easy to collect and carry hundreds of volumes in a space smaller than a single paperback book. Already in the mainstream of consumer use, electronic books are appearing on campuses with increasing frequency. Thanks to a number of pilot programs, much is already known about student preferences with regards to the various platforms available. Electronic books promise to reduce costs, save students from carrying pounds of textbooks, and contribute to the environmental efforts of paper conscious campuses.

Some other important points made by the report are

  • Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
  • Institutions increasingly focus more narrowly on key goals, as a result of shrinking budgets in the present economic climate. Across the board, institutions are looking for ways to control costs while still providing a high quality of service. Schools are challenged by the need to support a steady — or growing — number of students with fewer resources and staff than before. In this atmosphere, it is critical for information and media professionals to emphasize the importance of continuing research into emerging technologies as a means to achieve key institutional goals. As one example, knowing the facts about shifting server- and network intensive infrastructure, such as email or media streaming, off campus in the current climate might present the opportunity to generate considerable annual savings.
  • New scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching continue to emerge but appropriate
    metrics for evaluating them increasingly and far too often lag behind.

It must be noted that currently Higher Education authorities in the US are not promoting the Kindle due to its limitations for blind and vision impaired students. Thanks to Helen Boelens for this article.

21st Century teaching tools

Ollie Bray, a National Advisor for Emerging Technologies in Learning at LTS (Learning and Teaching Scotland) has produced a useful presentation.

Looking at tools for 21st Century learning and teaching, Bray asks questions such as how do we ensure students who have access to unlimited information develop emotional literacy and social maturity?

There are some new tools featured as well as ideas for Personal Learning Networks. Worth a look.

View more presentations from Ollie Bray.

PBS teachers

PBS teachers is a website devoted to learning and teaching brought to you by the US television network PBS.

PBS teachers

There is an incredible amount of teacher resources here and they are not all US based. There are many online resources for those of us outside the USA to use. Organised by level:

  • Pre K,
  • K-2,
  • 3-5,
  • 6-8,
  • 9-12

and then by the subjects

  • The Arts,
  • Health and Fitness,
  • Maths,
  • Reading and Language Arts,
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Studies.

There are classroom resources, discussions and information on forthcoming and recent professional development.

The site is attractive and well organised and there is sure to be something to suit just about everyone. Featured initiatives such as ‘Raising readers’ that links to stories and reading activities and the PBS video portal that collects shows broadcast on PBS (these ARE available to people outside the US, unlike the BBC iPlayer) are other useful aspects of the site.

Also, see this School Library Journal article: PBS, NASA partner to help educators with climate change lessons.  PBS teachers is a very useful site for teacher resources.

BBC teachers

The BBC have done it again with a fabulous website for learning and teaching.

BBC teachers

BBC teachers has a raft of information for teachers and students including:

  • video clips on BBC programs
  • podcasts 
  • lesson plans
  • worksheets
  • BBC iPlayer
  • news
  • languages
  • links, activities and resources.

Although obviously primarily aimed at the UK and Ireland, BBC teachers has some useful content for teachers in Australia and beyond.

Feature blog – Lucacept

Bright Ideas is pleased to announce on behalf of the School Library Association of Victoria that Jenny Luca, uberblogger, Web 2.0 sensation and Head of Information Services at Toorak College, is the recipient of the 2009 John Ward Award. To win the award, the recipient must demonstrate an outstanding contribution to learning and teaching at their school and raise the profile of the profession through their role as teacher-librarian. Jenny has certainly done this!

As most of you probably know, Jenny has written her inspirational blog Lucacept for some time now and has gained an amazing and well deserved following, both throughout Australia and internationally. Comments on Lucacept come from the who’s who of the Web 2.0 world.

 Jenny has kindly taken time out from her busy schedule to share news on the development and evolution of Lucacept.


Lucacept evolved after probably a year and a half of exposure to ideas about Web 2.0. I was involved in a project with the AISV being run by Tom March called My Place. We were using some of the tools and I was beginning to see how we could use them for student engagement and collaboration. Unfortunately, it wasn’t funded beyond that initial year. Things cemented when I went  to the Expanding Learning Horizons conference in 2007 and participated in a 5 hour workshop with Will Richardson. That experience got me really excited about the possibilities and I started reading his blog. Not long after I was presenting at an ALIA conference in Adelaide and John Connell was a keynote presenter. He mentioned his blog and I started reading that too. It was like a springboard effect; the more I read the more I discovered and the more I realised that I wanted to participate in the conversations that were happening in the edublogosphere.

Over the summer holiday break we went camping and I decided that once I returned home I’d start writing. I was mulling over a name. I was talking to my husband and said that I was trying to intercept the Web. He drove to work and rang not soon after suggesting ‘Lucacept’.  I had the name, now I just had to start writing.

So start writing I did. Here’s an excerpt from my first post;

“I’ve taken the plunge and decided to become a blogger. I want to learn as much as I can about the Web 2.0 world and think it would be a good idea to share what I am learning. I’m reading lots of blogs via my Google reader  and can see that sharing some of these amazing insights will be beneficial for others.”

And this happened (from my second blog post);

“Last night I wrote my first post. Well, I thought, that will fade into obscurity until I tell someone they should have a look at this newfangled thing I’m doing. Wasn’t I surprised (and very excited I might add) to see comments  from Alec Couras   and Judy O’Connell this morning. Thanks for taking the time to notice – it means a lot to a novice.”

I’d committed to writing a post every day bar Saturday. I did this for the first six months and then decided that it wasn’t necessary to do this. Another factor was that I was now part of the network; I was connecting and communicating with others using tools like Twitter and was finding it hard to maintain balance. That continues to be a struggle, but I’m finding it easier now that I have established a presence. I know I can be away for a little while and the network won’t forget me!

The connections I’ve made have been the most  valuable part of my blogging experience. I was able to work with Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson to incorporate Australian schools into their international Cohort of Powerful Learning Practice. That program is now being used as a pilot with DEECD for a Netbook trial. The students at my school have participated in Global projects and are starting to understand that you can have reach and influence if you actively pursue it. I’ve established a Ning called ‘Working together to make a difference’ with Angela Stockman from Buffalo, New York and Mike Poluk from Canada; it is a wonderful space for sharing and doing meaningful service learning work. I am very proud of the caring and supportive network that is growing in that Ning environment. My own students have worked in a Ning environment that links four classrooms and it has changed the nature of our interactions. Learning takes place outside of classroom hours; we have created community. Expert voices such as Michael Gerard Bauer and Barry Heard have joined along the way and have helped the students understand their words. I learn every day from the people I share with and try to bring that learning back to my school environment. I know that the library space we are in the process of creating (we have funding for a new building and will begin the build in the new year) will be influenced by the thinking I am exposed to via the networks I operate in.

I’m constantly surprised that people read my words and are inspired by them. My school community are aware of what I do and I am supported by my Principal, Noel Thomas, who encourages my work and often broadcasts it to our wider school community. His support enabled me to attend Learning 2.008 in Shanghai where I was able to meet some of the people in my network face to face.  I don’t force my blog onto the staff; if they want to read it they know it is there. What I have found is that people know that I have knowledge and they are starting to approach me to assist them in trying out new ideas for teaching and learning.

I’m excited by investigating the validity of these new tools for educational purposes. I’ve been invited to contribute to a Reference Group informing ACER (Australian Council of Educational Research) who are beginning to research the impact of digital learning environments.  

Blogging has changed my life. I’m a learner now, first and foremost. I learn alongside the students I teach and we share the rewards and frustrations of new ideas and environments. I’ve never been more energized or excited about the future of teaching. It’s a wonderful time to be a Teacher-Librarian. We have this perfect storm of opportunity to run with new thinking and be the leaders in our schools. Libraries are in the process of reinvention and can become true hubs for thinking, conversation, sharing and belonging.  We need to embrace the change and run with it!

Jenny is an extremely deserving recipient of the John Ward Award. She dedicates innumerable hours to Lucacept, the Ning and other Web 2.0 projects. Jenny’s school, Toorak College, is extremely fortunate to have a staff member of Jenny’s intelligence, vision, drive, commitment and passion for learning and sharing. Jenny is an outstanding role model for teacher librarians and lifelong learners. Congratulations Jenny!

21st Century ready students: start with the teacher

Here are two recent presentations by US educator Brad Flicklinger on 21st Century learning that you should find inspiring (you’ll need QuickTime to view them):

21st Century skills part 1. 

 21st c skills 1

The “Spot the skills” slide is especially relevant – six skills that demonstrate 21st Century learning:

  1. Creativity and innovation
  2. Research and information fluency
  3. Communication and collaboration
  4. Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making
  5. Digital citizenship
  6. Technology operations and concepts

Also “spot the skills” for teachers:

  1. Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity
  2. Design and develop digital -age learning experiences and assessments
  3. Model digital-age work and learning
  4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility
  5. Engage in professional growth and leadership

Watch the video to find the answer to the question “How do we know when someone has 21st century skills?”

Brad goes on to discuss how we can embed such skills into the curriculum and how can we ensure all teachers are skilled up. He also addresses the issues many teachers have with technology:

  • lack of time
  • lack of equipment
  • lack of confidence

as well as the teachers who are ‘blockers’.

21st Century skills part 2

21st c skills 2

In this video, Brad suggests that teachers complete an online, self-paced Web 2.0 course such as the SLAV Web 2.0 Learning with the Web or the Syba Signs Web 2.0 course. However, Brad suggests that teachers could take up to a year to complete the course so that the course is truly self-paced and there is less pressure on the teacher.

In the course that Brad uses as an example, teachers are then challenged by their school Principals to produce a curriculum unit (or artefact) that embeds Web 2.0 into it, therefore using, refining and sharing their newly acquired skills. This is an excellent idea as it promotes sharing and learning as well as getting teachers comfortable with their skills and seeing how they can be used directly in the curriculum. So steps to doing this are:

  1. Pick an ‘artefact’ such as a podcast that shows 21st Century skills.
  2. Embed these skills into the curriculum using rubrics so students and teachers know what to expect.
  3. Use online support such as Atomic learning (be aware that they are sponsors of Brad).
  4. Reward teachers who support 21st Century learning (for example, Principals give teachers digital cameras etc. to use in curriculum development. Brad suggests that funds could be sourced from Regions/Districts.)
  5. Principals should be leading the way. If teachers are expected to have blogs, then the Principal should have a blog and be reading the teachers’ blogs.

So if we want 21st Century students, we need to start with the teacher. Or if you listened to Brad’s presentations, start with the Principal. Or if you really listened, start with the Region/District. The question is, can we do this? Can we get our Regions to make this happen? Maybe it is already happening?


 ePals promotes itself as ‘the internet’s largest global community of connected classrooms.  It is a free resource that offers collaborative school projects, eMentoring as well as ‘ePals on the web’.


From the website comes the following information:

The Social Network for Learning

ePals is the largest and fastest growing K-12 online community for meaningful learning. More than half a million educators and millions of learners across 200 countries and territories safely connect, collaborate and build community.

  • Schools around the globe use our school-safe email and blog tools.
  • Deep learning is catalyzed through collaborative learning projects and experiences such as In2Books, ePals’ research-based curriculum-aligned eMentoring program.

Exchanging ideas and questions in a meaningful way with other learners – down the block or around the globe – generates great excitement about learning and builds 21st century digital literacy and learning skills.

ePals was written about recently in The Journal. The text of the article follows: 

ePals Boosts Language Translation Capabilities

By David Nagel


Education technology provider ePalshas upgraded its ePals Global Community by expanding its instant translation capabilities. The service has now added 26 additional languages and can now translate text in a total of 35 languages.

Some of the new languages supported by the translator include Arabic, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Polish, Russian, Swedish, and Vietnamese

ePals is a free resource that reaches more than half a million educators and millions of students worldwide, offering collaboration tools, social networking capabilities, and school-oriented features like Classroom Match, SchoolMail, SchoolBlog, and In2Books.

  • Classroom Match is a tool designed to let teachers connect with other classrooms or online projects around the country.
  • SchoolMail is an integrated, teacher-monitored e-mail system that includes 72 language-translation pairs, spell checking, virus and spam filters, and file-sharing capabilities.
  • SchoolBlog is a literacy education tool that offers teacher-supervised message boards that encourage students to express ideas and collaborate with peers and instructors.
  • In2Books is an online literacy curriculum based around a dialog between a student and an adult mentor designed to improve student achievement on standardized tests and increase critical thinking and writing proficiency.

According to ePals, more than 500,000 teachers and “millions of students” around the world use the online service. Further information can be found here.

The In2Books section of the site may be of interest to Primary School teachers:

With In2Books, 3rd – 5th grade students:

  • Are connected with carefully screened adult pen pals
  • Select and read 5 books closely each year
  • Engage with adult pen pals who read the same books
  • Exchange 6 online letters each year with their adult pen pals


With In2Books, teachers: the learning with in-class discussions about the books and related instruction in genre and literacy skills.

Reinforce and extend

Certainly worth perusing.

Online resources for teaching Shakespeare

English teachers are always looking for new ways to support teaching Shakespeare. Here is a site that provides just that. Provided by the UK’s Department for Children, Schools and Families, Powerpoints, Word Documents and Smartboard files are available for anyone to use.

Enjoying Shakespeare homepage
Enjoying Shakespeare homepage

With strategies that incorporate ICT into teaching texts such as Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as more specific information on teaching Romeo and Juliet, this is a site you should share with your English teaching colleagues. They’ll thank you for it!