Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Te Reo Maori Week

As many New Zealanders will know, this week is Te Reo Maori week. (Maori is the indigenous language of New Zealand.) Each year at our school we have a school wide Maori lesson for every day during this week. In the past it has been done in various ways, but this year one of our ICT lead teachers, Kerry Tetupu, has used her students to present the lessons in a really inventive way!

Korero Mai

Each day's lesson has been made available in video format on the server. Teachers merely have to drag the day's lesson on to their desktop, and show it using the IWBs or dataprojectors that we have in every class. The whole school participates at the same time.

Our students were able to participate in the Waiata, the lesson itself and the karakia at the end. Words of the song and key vocabulary are included, and the presenters have been really good at creating long enough pauses, so that the students watching can interact, and repeat terms and words. They have even used praise and motivation, to encourage their learners! These video's have been scripted, filmed and edited by the children themselves. Each lesson includes a seperate digital story, in the form of a podcast, that was scripted and created by the students themselves. A competition question is asked at the end of each video, and a daily winner for each year group is announced later in the day by that morning's presenters, using our speaker system.

The videos are currently being uploaded onto a wiki, and I will add a link to it as soon as possible.

Well done to Kerry, and to Room 22. Ka Pai!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Share your links with Sharetabs

For my online university paper on Literacy (EDPROFST 702) I'm looking at ideas to use for teaching phonics to struggling readers. I needed a tool where I can list all the websites I've found. Usually I use my De.lici.ous account, but reading Hey.Milly's blog I got the idea to use Sharetabs.

Here are some interesting games and links that can be used for Phonics. I prepared this list using Sharetabs. I can see this tool being quite useful in class for inquiry or when wanting to focus on a specific skill for a specific group. My tabs are here.

ShareTabs - Share your links as tabs

What other uses can you think of for this tool?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Skype in the classroom

We have been experimenting with using Skype video calls quite a bit in the classroom lately, and I have found it to be such a useful tool.

The added bonus is that I have 100% student participation and focus! I use the interactive whiteboard, with a MacBook with built in webcam for our calls, so all the students can see the video, and can see the participant on our side.

Last year I Skyped my cousin, a quadriplegic,who I had grown up with in Zimbabwe. Until the very end of the conversation the students did not realise that he was physically disabled. We spoke about his childhood and growing up in Africa. He also told them that as a child I had stolen his ice-cream, which delivered roars of laughter, and made it all very real for my students.

Last term we were having a look at World Geography. I contacted my 14 year old nephew in Michigan, and my class were able to ask him questions about the climate, population, schooling and so on. What worked really well, was that we planned the questions before hand, and I forwarded them to him, so that he could prepare answers. Each child had a turn to introduce him/herself and then asked the question assigned to him. We practiced listening and responding to the answers. At the end of the conference some of my boys performed the haka for him, which was a great hit at the other end! I have many other friends all over the world, and if I repeat this unit, I will certainly draw on my contacts to talk to my students about their countries!

This term we are focusing more on health and body issues. Yesterday we had a call to a colleague, Sue Hodge, who is at home with a back injury. She had a discussion with the students about back injuries, possible treatments and prevention. Although we had not prepared questions this time, it went really well, and the student participation was once again excellent.

Success depends very much on good organization. You need to have informed the participant on the other side of your learning intentions, and what type of questions they can expect.Remember to work out the time difference and agree on a suitable time and date! America is particularly tricky, as the time difference can be up to 16 hours! Also make sure that your students are prepared with questions, and understand what procedure is being used. A chat about protocols and ettiquette, and also interview techniques is very important. I like to send a quick chat message about half an hour before our call, just to make sure the participant is standing by, and that connectivity is OK.

I'm looking forward to Skyping more often, and will keep you posted. I would love to hear from anyone else that has used Skype in an interesting way!

I found this interesting post by Vicky Davis (Coolcat Teacher blog) on how she has implemented Skype in her classroom: Skype in the Classroom. She has a great video, so have a look!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Skype to Singapore

I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Singapore last week, but it overlapped with an exciting ICT expo hosted by my school. Fortunately Alicia and I had a plan!

The two of us hosted a breakout called 'Skype to Singapore' and delegates were able to set up their Skype account, learn to use text and video functions, and take part in a live audio-conference with me in Singapore and Alicia hosting from Auckland.

We had really good feedback, and delegates were excited about the ability to have first hand real time experience in the use of Skype!

Of course, I breathed a sigh of relief that the hotel's rather unstable wireless kept going for the entire 45 minutes!