Thursday, October 23, 2008

Teacher eTalk Widget now available!

Widgetbox is a gallery of interesting widgets that you can embed into your blog to add a bit of bling.

You can also use it to create a widget of your own blog! This is a great way to promote your blog, and for followers to keep up with your new posts.

Here's my new widget. You can get it by clicking on the 'Get Widget' button in my sidebar widget! All you have to do is grab the embed code, and embed it in the sidebar of your blog.

Let me know how it goes!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Use 'Power Teaching' to create Powerful Learners!

By the last term of school, teaching with high energy, and captivating student's attention, becomes quite a challenge... and so does student behaviour. This year I've stumbled upon a methodology which has changed our entire class energy and dinamics: Power Teaching.

I was looking through some You Tube videos on teaching Writing skills, which I wanted to show my students. One of the videos used a method called Power Teaching. The students mimic the gestures of the teacher, and in turn teach each other. Student engagement is high, critical thinking skills are stimulated and the fun factor is extreme. Even for the Classroom Teacher!

Last Monday, after showing my kids the video, they begged for us to try Power Teaching in class. Being a good 21st Century Teacher, I told them I would find out more about it, not thinking it would be so easy. To my surprise, I found the Teaching Power website , and the Power Teaching Home page with all the information you could possibly need. It even has downloadable posters, an instruction manual and some case studies written by teachers! I read late into the night....

By Tuesday, I had started introducing the '5 rules' to my class. They caught on quick as a whistle. By Wednesday, they started teaching each other. By Thursday it was part of our class management routine. By Friday one other teacher - in a new entrant class - had started to implement Power Teaching, and two regular relievers had written down the website URL!

At the end of every day we have a quick recap of the day, which we do in the format of '2 stars and a wish'. Every day this week, one of the 'stars' was: 'WE LOVE POWER TEACHING'. Their wish for next week: "We want to do more Power Teaching"!

I'll try to post a video of us trying it next week. In the meantime here's the video that originally captured my attention. Take a few minutes to watch it - you will be astounded!

  • Now I'm just wondering: Are there any of you trying Power Teaching, and what are the pro's and con's?
  • Also is anyone doing Power Teaching training in New Zealand? If so, please let me know!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cultural Kaleidoscope

Our theme for this term is 'Celebrations' and today the entire school celebrated their own culture by coming to school in our traditional dress.

I used Vuvox to create this beautiful kaleidoscope to remember our day:

What beautiful people we have in our class!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Making a difference by donating Free Rice

Our school-wide focus this year is Making a Difference. One of the ways to do this is to make use of the site Free Rice, where you donate grains of rice with every click.

I've been wanting to write about this site for some time now, and many bloggers have mentioned it before me: Free Rice. Initially you could only play a vocabulary game, but now the site gives you different subjects to choose from like Grammar, German, Multiplications Tables, and more!

I've played the game with my class a couple of times, using the Interactive Whiteboard, to improve their vocabulary. They loved it, and I'm sure they're going to love practicing their tables this way too! It's an ideal whole class warm up before starting small groups. At the same time we are helping feed people who are less fortunate, and Making a Difference in a very real way!

To get a running total every time you play, you need to set your options like this. Every time you start, it will remember your total from the last time you played.

I decided to see how the 'German' questions were, and to my surprise, I'm not as rusty as I thought! I managed to donate 1340 grains of rice in about 10 minutes. According to Lance Wiggs, 1000 grains is equivalent to 26g of rice. A child's portion is about 50g of dry rice, so if my calculations are correct, every 2000 grains can feed a child!

Is there any class out there who would like to take up the challenge this term, and try and see who can donate the most grains of rice?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Best Teacher Blog, runner-up!

One of my first posts 'To Blog or not to Blog' was written a year ago, at uLearn '07. I remember how excited I was when Jane Nicholls posted a comment!

It's just a year later, and my blog is a finalist in the Interface Magazine's Best Teacher Blog category. I'm so thrilled! I've loved every moment of blogging, and this is just the beginning!

Please vote for my blog here!

Thanks for everyone's support and positive feedback, and keep the comments coming!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Day 2: uLearn08

Both breakouts today have been great, and I'm looking forward to the next one, too!

Breakout 3: Inquiry with Interactive Whiteboards with Clair Ross

This was really inspiring. Claire is a down-to-earth and engaging presenter, and sure knows her stuff.

The session was focused more on getting kids to interact and discuss during inquiry, and we were given some really effective ideas. I can't wait to try them with my class. It's also made me realize that an inquiry can be one lesson long, and doesn't have to be a long, difficult process!

I loved the little activote-gadget that she used to have us vote on the Big Question, before and after discussion. It demonstrated really well how people's opinions change once they've received information on topics. Does Smartboard have that too?

Plenty of work and thought went into her presentation, and it showed! Just a pity I didn't realize that it was on Promethean, as I have a Smartboard.

I'll be trying out all the tips and tricks, and pestering the Smartboard people to find ways for me to do things like embedding videos, and having those funky little tags that hide notes off-screen.

Breakout 4: Lights, camera, action! Dean Rogers

I've been dying to start a school TV channel, and this, together with yesterday's Mogulus session, was just the thing. He presented director's jargon and tips and tools in a punchy, easy to understand manner. The session was fast-paced, and entertaining.

For all my sessions I've been making notes in Google Docs, so anyone who wants notes can just email me, and I'll share them! This enables me to work on my notes from any laptop, so I haven't really needed to lug mine along, and I didn't yesterday. Best of all, I don't even have a pen, or paper with me!

Breakout 5 : Stuart Hale (again) : Keynote

I thought I pretty much knew everything I could do in Keynote. Gee, was I surprised! I learned soooo much! I have to make a presentation to our BOT about what I've learned at uLearn '08 soon. They may not be blown away by my content, but they will sure be blown away by my slides!

Of course, Twittering away during sessions has kept me informed of what's going on! Oh, how I love Web 2.0!

Image: wikipedia

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

uLearn 08 is here!

Here I am, waiting for my first breakout of this year's uLearn '08 to start. It's a marvellous day, I had a great breakfast, and I'm still buzzing from yesterday's pre-conference breakout on photography!

Breakout One: David Kinane (Turning the Supertanker) is just introducing himself, and will be showing us how to use Mogulus to start a TV network. He has set up a wiki, and you can have a look for yourself!

Have to go! I'll keep you posted... What breakouts have you been at, and how are you finding it?