Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Don't Panic

With a huge number of teachers strugglling with illness the possibility of leaving the safety of the ICT room and working in a classroom all day reared it's head today. We were warned last night that this might be necessary due to the likely absence of several at a staff meeting after school yesterday.

Having attended a meeting regarding a forthcoming conference in Hong Kong until 9.30 last night (more on this later), preparation for a full day in the classroom was always going to be a bit rushed. However, armed with ideas from the likes of Tom Barrett and Derek Robertson I decided to try a little experiment and teach the day's lessons with the help of a Nintendo Wii.




Our Literacy lesson would have been spent looking at Endless Ocean and using the underwater environment to stimulate writing, whilst Wii Sports Golf is a great way of tackling aspects of mental maths.

Soon after arriving in school it was clear that a number of our ill members of staff had dragged themselves out of their sickbeds to man the classrooms - why do teachers do that?! - so I wasn't required.

Undeterred though, I set about trying to get the Wii to work on one of our Promethean whiteboards. The video was no problem but the sound proved to be tricky and a few different combinations of speakers and adapters were required before things were sorted. Ms Li had a quick spin with Endless Ocean and proved herself to be an excellent diver. First glimpses of Endless Ocean indicate that it could indeed be used as a stimulus for writing and as soon as I can convince one of the class teachers or year groups to dive headlong into an ocean based cross curricular project I'll be all set!

Our P4 class were the first to use the Wii as we used the golf game as a way of practising addition and subtraction. Golfers hit the ball whilst their classmates worked out how far they had hit by subtracting the distance left from the total distance of the hole. The maths worked fine, but as anybody who is familiar with golf knows, it's not really that simple as the ball rarely (for me) goes in a straight line. P5 students did a similar activity, but as they have been using spreadsheets in recent lessons, they had to calculate the distance hit by entering a formula into the cells.

Students in both classes worked enthusiastically and enjoyed the novelty of the Wii as a context for their work. The activities we worked on were fairly simple and were only really an experiment to see whether the device could be set up to run in a classroom. Now we know that it's possible and some simple tasks have been started, we now need to look at how we can create a more comprehensive module of work like the one Derek Robertson talks about in the link above.

Scratch Seminar

Monday evening saw a number of interested teachers gather at Kellett to share experience and expertise of the programming software, Scratch. Teachers were enthusiastic in sharing what they had done and future collaboration was discussed.

We were lucky enough to have Jane Harris from CIS attend the meeting and it was fascinating to hear her views. Jane has worked extensively in Scratch and presented at MIT's Scratch Conference last summer. She has been working in Maths lessons with groups using the software to investigate aspects of Shape & Space, e.g. tesselation, rotation and transformation. Student understanding of these ideas appear to have improved significantly as a result of her work. This is a clear example of how the 'traditional' curriculum can be taught using aspects of technology and I look forward to trying out some of her ideas here at Kellett.

I have been mightily impressed with the work our Year 6 and 7 students have created this term in Scratch and I'm hoping to extend this further down the school. For students who want to use the computer during the holidays, Scratch is an ideal medium for experimenting and creating. Amzingly, it's completely free and can be downloaded from here.

Those wishing to investigate Scratch further might like to look at the Delicious page we've set up for Scratch. You could always let us know of alternative Scratch resources by adding them in the comments below.

Monday, 15 December 2008

ICT is for Life, Not Just Christmas!

It's amazing how many hits this blog gets from search engines with text like "ICT Christmas activities" at this time of year. Our post about Christmas web sites from last year often appear in the results and directs traffic towards us, which is great.

However, it does suggest that there are people who see ICT as a convenient stocking filler at this time of the year! Whilst there are some fun Christmas sites out there, there's some that are a bit dull!

I quite like the Snowflakes websites that can be found on the web. Last year we highlighted the Look and Feel site as being great fun, but the definite favourite this year is the online drawing site Myoats, which has a stunning snowflake creator.

In a rare display of ICT Christmas spirit(!), P3 students used the creator to make their own images which were then made into an Animoto slideshow:

Friday, 12 December 2008

Google Lively - the protest spreads

I'm a big fan of Google, I think they do some great things that impact hugely upon teaching and learning. We've used loads of their tools at Kellett... Earth, Sketchup, Maps, Docs, Picasa, and sometimes students even use it for searching!

However, their recent decision to shut down Google Lively at the end of December has caused dismay amongst many in education who see the opportunity to extend classrooms into virtual environments as an important strand of 21st Century Learning. Whilst it's true that major virtual grids exist elsewhere, such as Second Life, the ability to create your own rooms and customise them for your own students offers huge potential.

Education is still only just dipping it's toe into the possibilities that virtual worlds afford us, but it's companies like Google with it's track record of creating innovative tools for educators that should be leading the way, not bailing out without giving leading innovaters time to experiment and share their practise.

A huge well done to Vicki Davis in leading the way on this. Her students have been using Google Lively as a means of investigating aspects of Digital Citizenship and quite rightly they are dismayed at Google's decision to pull the plug. They have recently held a protest to try to convince Google that they should change their minds and they have the full support of our Year 8 students who have begun to explore Lively.

Education takes time to discover, investigate and formulate strategies for using new tools. They can't just be adopted because they look good, they need an educational context to justify their use. Two years ago we looked into setting up a Kellett Island in Second Life but the cost was prohibitive. Lively offers us the opportunity to do it for free but we need more time to structure our approach.

Please give us the time, Google. You can sign the Google Lively Petition here.
What do our Year 8 students think?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Scratch at Kellett

After two successful modules of work taught at Year 6 and 7 all students have produced a project built in Scratch. Year 7 students have also uploaded their work to the internet and commented on each other's creations.

Next Monday a few HK teachers will meet at Kellett to discuss the use of Scratch in the classroom. This is an exciting opportunity to share expertise and experience and take our use of the software to the next level.

If any HK teachers reading this would like to attend please feel free to do so, just let me know.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Oliver Postgate

Sad to hear of the death of Oliver Postgate earlier this week. For those of a certain age, Postgate was required viewing in the days when there was very little children's tv, with programmes usually aired at lunchtime and early evening. There was certainly no 24 hour channels showing endless cartoons.

Whilst Bagpuss seems to be the most remembered of his creations, it wasn't a favourite of mine. It was merely a pretender to the best small children's TV programme ever made...

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Using Computer Games in Literacy

As anybody who takes a vague interest in this blog knows, I am very keen that students have opportunities to use computer games within their studies. Tim Rylands and Derek Robertson are two educators who have pioneered the use of COTS (commercial off the shelf) games within the classroom, using them as a means to making the curriculum more engaging and culturally relevant.

Robertson's work is particularly interesting as it attempts to add academic validation through a research project looking at the use of Dr Kawashima's Brain Training. His recent invitation as the keynote at VITTA shows that people are beginning to take note.

Our ICT curriculum here at Kellett has a module in each Key Stage 2/3 year looking at computer games. This also informs work on games design at the top of KS2 and into KS3. However, the real importance of looking at games is in the wider curriculum. For two years we have worked on a module using the simulation game Rollercoaster Tycoon as a basis for Literacy work at year 5, tackling aspects of persuasive language and research. The point with this type of activity is that the computer game is merely the stimulus for pupils, similar to a text, an image, or even a visit.

Last year our Year 5 students were introduced to the online game Samorost2, a problem solving activity. They loved the game and the difficulties the character faced so much that many of them carried on working on the problems at lunchtimes and at home.

Inspired by the work of Kim Pericles in Australia I sat down earlier this term with P6 teacher Katie Hitchcox and introduced her to the mysteries and intricacies of the first Samorost game. From there Miss Hitchcox planned the use of Samorost into her Literacy work; a two week module looking at story settings within a fantasy genre..... here's what happened.





Students were introduced to the game and encouraged to work in small groups to solve the problems and help the main character to save his planet. Interestingly, whilst many of the adults involved in this project had found the problem-solving aspects quite difficult (impossible, actually!!), the students worked well together and had clearly plenty of digitally native experience in this type of activity. Although the seven levels of the game were challenging, by the end of the first Literacy session most of the groups were nearing completion.




After spending time with the game, students then discussed aspects of narrative writing, taking notes on each scene before looking at creating powerful openings to their stories. To enhance their understanding of narrative, setting and character, the class then moved to the Drama Studio where they used a variety of techniques to help them understand the situation and feelings of the characters. Many of the pupils felt this was very helpful when they were working on their writing. Alongside the specific tasks within Literacy there was an ongoing writing task requiring pupils to write a story based upon the game. Most of the work was done in class using laptops.

What is Samorost?







Working As a Team







Samorost in Drama







Using Samorost to help Writing







Persuasive Language with Samorost







Writing Example 1







Writing Example 2








During the second week of Literacy, students focussed specifically on the fishing scene from the game, using figurative language to describe setting and including personification, simile and metaphor. To extend their work further, students also looked at the genre of advertising and created an advert for a future release of the game, Samorost3 assumably!
The images below are extracts from pupil work, click the arrows to move through them.


More to follow!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Year 7 Scratch

Both Year 6 and 7 have continued to look at the programming language Scratch in the last three weeks. Whilst P6 have begun to look at controlling images of themselves within the Scratch environment, the Year 7s have been considering aspects of computer game design whilst creating simple games that could be played by younger students.


A number of the games are very playable and include important aspects of game design, such as scoring, timers, levels and targets. The study of Scratch not only helps students to understand aspects of Control Technology, it also encourages review and refinement as well as offering a relatively simple path into the world of programming.

Hopefully a few of the games will be available for playing shortly.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Parent Resources

Day three of Robyn's visit began with a session for Educational Support Assistants. The staff listened intently to Robyn and there were lots of questions at the end!

Feedback from yesterday's Parent Forum continues to be positive and for those who wish to read further or who couldn't make yesterday's meeting, here are a number of resources to help you out.
  • A summary of Robyn's discussion with parents is now available and can be viewed here.
  • Childnet International offers a variety of resources to support students, teachers and parents. Click here to visit
  • Digizen hosts a variety of resources including the film Let's Fight It Together used with our older students. Click here to visit
  • Kidsmart is another good source for support and parental advice and includes an interactive presentation which is a great help. Click here to visit
  • Symantec also offer a set of resources including a checklist for parents. Click here to visit

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Parent Forum

Day Two of Robyn Treyvaud's visit kicked off with an early morning session with the Kellett parents. Over 60 parents gathered in the Auditorium to hear Robyn speak about the experiences of young people today in their online worlds and how they can be supported. She stressed how our students see online as an extension and enhancement of their real-world existence and how it can be used to build upon friendships and relationships rather than replacing them.



She also talked about the importance of connectedness for our pupils and it was clear that much of what she said struck a chord with our parents. Sadly, the session only lasted for 70 minutes. I suspect that most present would have been quite happy to stay and listen to Robyn talk all day!

The initial feedback from the session was very positive;

  • "the talk today was fantastic, great lady in tune with parental concerns but still able to talk to children"

  • "A very good talk, good update and positive"

Robyn has made the text of her presentation available to parents and these will be ready shortly. She also has a Delicious account where you can access some of her links;


You can access the resources by clicking here.


After the parents had left the Auditorium it was non stop for the rest of the day as Robyn ran four sessions for pupils at KS2 and 3. Yet again she was able to connect so well with students that they discussed their issues honestly and openly. The sessions were also extremely valuable to those members of staff that attended.

Staff were able to listen to Robyn again after school as she reiterated some of the aspects covered in the earlier Parent Forum. Tomorrow morning will be an opportunity for our Educational Support Staff to meet Robyn.

During a series of meetings tomorow key staff will discuss events from the week and plan how we can move forward as a community to come to terms with what Digital Citizenship means.



Monday, 17 November 2008

Creating Resilient Digital Citizens

Digital Citizenship expert Robyn Treyvaud joined us today for the first of three days looking at the challenges and opportunities that face young people today.

After a tour of the school Robyn spent the first part of the morning discussing aspects of Digital Citizenship with staff. We touched upon safe and appropriate conduct, copyright, illegal downloads, cyber-bullying and a myriad of other subjects in a fascinating conversation.


Robyn then spoke to the P3 year group about their experiences using the internet and fleshed out how our students use the net and what issues they are concerned with. Robyn's manner encouraged the children to be reflective and they produced some extremely thought provoking comments, particularly on the subject of pressure from advertisers.

After lunch it was the turn of P4 who discussed a wide range of internet use, including blogging, games playing and illegal downloading. As in the earlier session, staff present were fascinated to hear the extent to which our students are immersed in the net and the types of activities they get up to.

At the end of the day Robyn spoke to the Early Years staff about how they can work with pupils to ensure positive use of the amazing resources available to our students and also discussed Digital Footprints.

A busy but fascinating day! Tomorrow promises to be just as interesting with Robyn starting with a Coffee Morning with Kellett parents, as well as sessions with our older pupils.

More to follow.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Dear Santa... Part 2

Even though I spend a lot of time using a keyboard I do still use a pen or a pencil on a daily basis, using a notebook to make notes on lessons.

Whilst it's inevitable that examinations will soon offer the option of typed answers, the ability to write fluently (if not neatly) is an advantage, as it the ability to type speedily and accurately, of course.

The next item in my Christmas list looks a real winner and could even have some uses in school for students, although the price might be a little offputting.

The Pulse Smartpen offers the ability to record audio files and download to a PC or a laptop and can seemingly synch the audio to your handwriting.

It sounds amazing, and if anybody has seen these on sale in HK, please, please let me know! The only downside for me is that on average I lose around 3.7 pens a week.
Thanks to Merlin John for pointing me to this. Here's the ad;

I bumped into Merlin John at BETT earlier this year and his blog is a favourite in my Google Reader. Without him, it would have taken me much longer to find out about the Smart Table, another great application from Smart. As a Smart refugee living in a Promethean world it may be a little ambitious adding this to my list, but one can only hope!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Digital Citizenship

Next week promises to be an exciting time at Kellett as we will be joined by Robyn Treyvaud for the first three days of the week.

Robyn is founder of Cyber Safe Kids and is a renowned speaker and trainer on all aspects of Digital Citizenship and the ways young people use the net. During her time at Kellett she will be running sessions for all KS2 and 3 students and working with staff to develop policies and coursework to reinforce her ideas.

She will also be speaking at a special Coffee Morning held on Tues 18th November in our auditorium to which all Kellett parents are invited. She will discuss the issues that face parents and suggest ways of coming to terms with the world in which our young people live.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Rising To The Top

It's true what they say, you can't beat age and experience.

The first few weeks of the Fantasy Football season saw the students out in front, but as the season has progressed the teachers have begun to dominate matters. In fact, as of today, five of the top six spots are filled by the teachers.

Clearly they know much more about football than the Kellett students. Oh well, keep trying!

A small glimmer of hope for the students might be that current leader, Ms Lewis and 4th placed Mr Hulbert are this week celebrating the arrival of Katie Jane, born at the weekend. Many congratulations to all of them and here's hoping they still find time to manage their teams!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

P3 Animoto Slideshow





P3 have just finished their Art in ICT module and it was a great success. We studied the art of Bridget Riley and used ICT to mimic some of her methods. Firstly we looked at the artist's early drawing in black and white and used a template to master the fill tool in Colour Magic.

During the second lesson we looked carefully at some of her coloured paintings and used templates to mimic them. We made effective use of ICT by saving our work continually after making changes, thereby enabling us to create a much bigger portfolio of work.

The later lessons involved students creating their own templates to fill. They used the Snap-to-Grid tool to help them create grids before filling them with colour and again saving lots of versions of their work. Some of their designs were amazingly intricate, as can be seen from the Animoto slideshow above.

There was some really creative work in the latter part of this module and the P3s worked really hard. Well done!

All the KS2 students at Kellett now have their own Animoto accounts so they can make their own slideshows on aspects of their studies.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Scratching Around

P6 students have begun to use Scratch in their ICT lessons. This brilliant piece of software from MIT is a great learning tool, allowing access to theories of programming as well as creativity.

We have been looking at different ways of learning the software, either progressing through a series of tutorials provided by Learnscratch.org or simply playing with the software and trying things out. Interestingly the results varied between classes with those set the task of investigating through play appearing to have a better understanding of the software than those who were working through the tutorials.
Learn more about this project
However, the tutorials do contain some excellent ideas for extended projects which we will be visiting in the next few weeks.

Scratch is an extremely engaging piece of software, students quickly become immersed in the intricacies and require little in the way of support from the teacher and are at ease with methods of self-support or helping each other out;

"How do you get rid of what you've drawn?"
"Right there."

Another great aspect of Scratch is that it's completely free and downloadable from the MIT website. It's a must have download for all students at the top of KS2 and up (or maybe even younger)


For those digital immigrants who like me require the security blanket of organised tutorials, LearnScratch is a great place to start.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Christmas Lists... what's on yours?

With Halloween done and dusted the approach to Christmas begins in earnest. As much as you might try to fend it off, a school is the last place for a Scrooge to be as November progresses.

As is the custom, it's time to start composing your letters to Santa Claus and given that sometimes he just can't get hold of the most popular items, it's good to get your requests in early. Given that some of the tecchy things on my list are likely to be in short supply in December I thought I'd look at what's likely to be in demand now.

Top of everybody's list is bound to be the newly announced Nintendo DSi, released in Japan this weekend and seemingly already available to pre-order here in HK. The new DS is slightly smaller and boasts a built in camera and web browser. This is excellent news for those of us who firmly believe that consoles like the DSi have an important role to play in learning.

Finding publicity material on the DSi is not so easy given that it's only available in Japan at the moment, but here's a clip;




The past year has seen an effort by Sony to make inroads into Nintendo's dominance of the 'family' or 'educational' game market. Their new Playstation Eye peripheral has added a new dimension to what their games can offer and the Eye Pet looks like being a great success;




The idea that players can become truely interactive with a game is a big step forward and will make games much more engaging to a wider audience.

Talking of making games more interesting to a wider audience, how about a DS game where you can pretend to be a teacher? What a great idea! One of the games in Ubisoft's Imagine series is Imagine Teacher, a game where you play as a new teacher making your way in a new job.

You have to plan your weekly timetable, mark you books and make sure your class progresses well as you attempt to create "the school of your dreams"!

Alarmingly though, the publicity warns that you need "be careful of those who want to stand in the way of your success"..... what could they mean by that!!?



For those that need a more ambitious entry on their list, how about a train? This one requires you to wind it up with a handcrank and costs around $40,000. You do need quite a large space to fit it in though. It would go nicely in our Reception Covered Area...

From previous posts I've made it's clear that I believe mobile technologies in education will become increasingly important in the next few years. Therefore, I'm grateful to HK Ed-Tech Consultant Paul McMahon for pointing me in the direction of the 3M Mobile Projector. At around $3000 this is a very affordable piece of kit and although it lacks the phone functions that will be with us in the next year or so, I could see lots of applications within school.


So, that's just a few initial ideas for my list, now I have to convince Santa that I really have been well behaved and deserve all of the above!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Sham Shui Po

A trip to Sham Shui Po is a good opportunity to browse the computer mall and market stalls and pick up a few goodies.

On the crowded MTR on the way there I was near to a group of three children (prob Y7/8) all of different races who between them had around five devices and spent the whole trip completely engaged with each other and their technology, listening to their music via shared headphones, viewing images on their cameras and constantly making phone calls, sending photos to each other.

A few things struck me as we travelled northwards. Firstly, how at home they were with their technology. They were competent users who used their devices as part of their everyday lives, socially and recreationally. Secondly, how can we transfer this enagement and this seamless use of technology into the classroom? Yes, we're making progress, but we must keep trying to extend what we do. The everyday use of technology musn't stop at the school gates, it needs to be completely embedded into the curriculum. Our students have an entitlement to that.

I like the manifesto/vision statement of a local school I read recently which stated that students should use ICT for 25% of the time they are in school. That sounds reasonable at primary level, depending on the sort of ICT they were doing, of course.

In recent weeks we've begun some exciting projects at Kellett using ICT, and not just in the ICT suite itself. Our new Flip Ultra video cameras (pictured left) have seen a lot of use in both KS1 and 2 whilst Year 7 and 8 continue to progress with Google Docs. On the horizon are some extremely exciting projects using our new facial animation software, Crazy Talk, and looking at games as a stumulus for writing at P6.

I'm really looking forward to continuing to embed technology within the curriculum and a few more goodies from Sham Shui Po will help a little! Our Flip Ultra sits proudly atop a new "Gorilla-Pod" "type"(!) tripod purchased on my recent visit. A few spare sets of headphones and smaller animation tripods were also bought on the day trip...

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Crazy Talk

Students working in Computer Club have been experimenting with the facial animation software Crazy Talk. They have added images of themselves into the software and created animation points on their faces so that the tool can animate in a realistic fashion.

They have then added speech to their models and synchronised the sound and the movement together. One student has even added his speech in French.

Crazy Talk is an extremely sophisticated, but simple to use piece of software that could be used across the curriculum, especially in Literacy, Humanities and MFL. Hopefully we will have the chance to use it in wider applications during the forthcoming year.

Now that they have mastered the basic techniques, Computer Club will be revisiting Crazy Talk throughout the year.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Peer Review in Google Docs

Year 7 have started using Google Docs to evaluate presentations made to the class. Each student gives their presentation and is then reviewed by their peers using a shared Google document. The use of Google Docs means that the whole class can contribute to a single document thereby giving valuable feedback.

You might expect (and I did), this type of activity to be dogged by technical issues, but it was actually fairly smooth with all students being able to log on wirelessly to the network from areas where there is usually little multiple access (the gym and the auditorium).

Student log-in to Google Docs was efficient in the most part and they were able to access the individual review file of each presenter without problems. As Google sets a limit of 10 users working simultaneously on each file there was a little wasted time for those that weren't quick enough to get in first! We need to work on this a bit and adapted so that students could comment on one of two presentations at the same time.

On the whole the quality of student comment was good, but because of the short amount of time they were permitted to write, there was not enough depth to their comments. We need to allow for more reflection and stress the difference between peer review in the classroom and the adding of comments to a Youtube video. Each has merit, but to support a classmate in IMPROVING and REFINING their work, the two are different.

Comments included;

  • That was really great!
  • it was the best presentation so far!
  • I loved it!!!

Which fall into the supportive category and may make the student feel good, but they don't identify what it is that is actually good. As far a peer review goes, the above are limited. More helpful comments included;

  • it was quite short and wasn't formal enough
  • great pictures and good formal language
  • very clear and well presented
  • You used good expression and talked about the pictures referring to the text
  • You actually looked at us, not many people can do that
  • you need to face us more than the screen
  • i liked the pics, the font was good
  • Next time just try to not hide the words behind the photographs
So, where next with this project?

There are more presentations to be seen with one more lesson before half-term and another straight after. Students need to look again at the comments they have made and also address the issue of precisely where they comment. The default position is the top of the screen, which soon becomes cluttered. The use of Insert, Comment allows for colour coding of postings so that everybody can see who has written what. The revision history is another way in which the updates of the document can be followed.

Although we've only scratched the surface of Google Docs so far, it's clear to see that it has huge potential within the classroom, allowing for simultaneous student collaboration.

KS3 students have also started to use Google Docs in English

Monday, 13 October 2008

Logo

P4 are looking at LOGO at the moment. The study of LOGO is an excellent introduction to the world of programming and leads to a variety of more complex work later on, such as using Scratch and Flowol.

With influential voices such as Marc Prensky advocating programming as an essential part of learning, LOGO is a great start. For those that want to follow up their work on LOGO, a free version called MSW LOGO can be downloaded from this page.

Left to their own devices.

Last year the General Secretary of the teaching union the NASUWT in the UK made a comment that must have haunted him ever since when he said; "Teachers would be grateful if pupils just brought a pen" when discussing students bringing gadgets in to schools.

His words were generally met with derision and rightly so. Our students are familiar with a huge array of technology and it's part of our role to help them to use it in a positive way. The mobile phone is a device often banned in schools, but with the vast majority (95%+) of secondary students owning them they could be a rich resource within the classroom. The new breed of phone has a number of functions which can allow for personalisation and innovation and apparently contains more computing power than the first Apollo space launch - don't ask me to reference that, it's just something I heard!

A research paper just released by the University of Nottingham in the UK looks at how secondary schools can use mobile phones to help learning.

Amongst other things, the report outlines 15 ways that students can use their mobiles;
  • Timing experiments with stopwatch
  • Photographing apparatus and results of experiments for reports
  • Photographing development of design models for eportfolios
  • Photographing texts/whiteboards for future review
  • Bluetoothing project material between group members
  • Receiving SMS & email reminders from teachers
  • Synchronising calendar/timetable and setting reminders
  • Connecting remotely to school learning platform
  • Recording a teacher reading a poem for revision
  • Accessing revision sites on the Internet
  • Creating short narrative movies
  • Downloading and listening to foreign language podcasts
  • Logging into the school email system
  • Using GPS to identify locations
  • Transferring files between school and home

Some great ideas there and many worth following up on. Being a complete dinosaur I'd never even realised you could use your mobile as a stopwatch... a really useful tool in the classroom.

Elizabeth Hartnell-Young's research work makes fascinating reading and a full version can be downloaded here.


Sunday, 12 October 2008

It's The End of the Word As We Know it...

and I feel fine.

Microsoft Word that is. The staff from Google HK gave a fascinating insight into how various Google products can be used within the classroom during Saturday's session at HKU. We've already started experimenting with Google docs at Kellett and that work now needs to be expanded upon in the wider curriculum, especially at KS2 and KS3.

Apart from a good look at Google Docs there was a session looking at Google Earth and Maps, as well as Google Sites. All of these can be used throughout our curriculum and they obviously have serious implications for our pedagogy.

I'm currently sat here trying to think of a good reason to use Microsoft Word in the KS2/3 classroom... it's not easy.

Welcome to the cloud...

Friday, 10 October 2008

We're Published

Towards the end of the last academic year, students in Year 7 spent time looking at how to add content to the photo positioning web site Panoramio. They looked closely at the locations they visited during their visit to Kota Kinabalu, but also added images of the school. Although it's possible to see your images translated onto maps within Panoramio... like this one, the real aim is to get your images added to Google Earth.

The good news is that one of our images recently made it! If you visit Wah Fu in Google Earth and have the Panoramio option switched on you can see our photo, and so can the whole world!

The ability to publish content is an essential part of 21st Century Learning and is a powerful motivator for students. Only ten years ago, students published their work to an extremely limited audience; their teacher, theirselves and maybe their classmates and close family with selected pieces of work.

With the development of the internet and the huge number of Web 2.0 tools now available students and their teachers can publish their work to much larger audiences, through collaborative work with classes and students from other countries, or to the internet in general.

During the past year, the small number of videos Kellett has published to the web have been viewed over 14,000 times. Compare that to the number that view a wall display in even the busiest of schools....

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Google Docs.... rocks!

Well, that's what Google says!

It's a testament to the interest that the education community in HK has in looking at collaborative ways of working that this Saturday's Google Seminar at HKU is hugely oversubscribed. So much so that there is now a second venue to cope with the overspill!

Year 7 will start their work with Google Docs tomorrow so it will be a good chance to try out before learning from Google staff.

Below is a video from Google explaining the idea behind Google Docs.

Geo Greeting

Here's an interesting way to help you learn spellings! Just type your words into Geo Greeting and see what they look like spelt by buildings from all over the world. The mouseover on the site allows you to see exactly where the building is on the globe. The greeting above includes buildings from Chicago, Tucson and Shanghai.

You can visit Geo Greeting by clicking here.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Google Docs

Year 7 have been working on the creation of a PowerPoint presentation about themselves. Whilst the use of PowerPoint may not be exactly innovative, the challenge for students is to make their work visually interesting and give them the scaffold to talk to their peers about themselves for three minutes.

As I've mentioned before we've looked at some aspects of PowerPoint that people often mis-use; intrusive backgrounds, inappropriate animations etc and we're trying to avoid those mistakes.

Whilst the use of PowerPoint might be labelled as old fashioned, it does have its uses and is still a standard software package for presentations. When our presentations are finished we will be looking at alternatives to PowerPoint and comparing applications.

We are going to try something different and innovative during our presentations though. When each Presentation is completed all students will have the opportunity to peer assess their classmates via Google Docs. Hopefully, each presenter will then have 23 pieces of feedback to help them evaluate and if necessary, refine their work.

That's the theory anyway! Setting up Google Docs has taken a little time but we seem to be getting there. Check back to see how it goes.

Rather conveniently, I will be attending a session on using Google Docs in the classroom at Hong Kong University this Saturday. Hopefully, I will return with some good ideas on how we can use this excellent resource across the school.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

X-Raye


X-Raye is a nice example of a problem-solving/strategy game. Minclip has a number of this type of game that require strategic thinking and planning as well as keyboard and mouse dexterity.

Whilst it's true that some of the games are of the 'shoot 'em up' variety, there's a lot more to Miniclip than that.





Games at Miniclip.com - XRaye
XRaye

Guide Raye through all 14 levels.

Play this free game now!!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

At A Loose End?

The EBD's decision to close schools today in the wake of Typhoon Hagupit means that some students may be at a loose end! Not so the teachers who are in school working hard!

For those that would like some ICT related 'stuff' to do today, here are a few ideas for a rainy day.

Brainormous has some great Numeracy related games in the free demo section. Try blasting through some subtraction problems. Click here to visit the site.

Another really useful site for a range of abilities within Numeracy is Super Maths World, which uses gaming type scenarios to teach subjects such as addition and subtraction of decimals. Click here to visit the site.

Younger students may like to visit Help Kidz Learn which has lots of fun games and activities, including T-Tex Build Up and Knock Down! Click here to visit the site.


Another old favourite worth a visit is Samarost. P5 spent some time looking at this stunning problem solving game last year and loved it. Click here to visit the site.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Wish You Were There?

Another important event following on from Shanghai Learning 2.0 is the Scottish Learning Festival which has an extremely stimulating and thought provoking series of seminars. Hopefully, some of the presentations will be available online for those that are interested.

Through the work of Ewan McIntosh, Derek Robertson and their colleagues Scotland are leading the way in innovative uses of technology within the curriculum. Any conference that has a seminar list including 'Using the Sony PSP as a Learning Tool in the Primary Classroom' and 'Please Miss, My Nintendog Needs Fed' is certainly worth taking note of.

As I've mentioned on a number of occasions, Games Based Learning is an integral part of the ICT curriculum here at Kellett and we are always looking for interesting and innovative ways to expand our provision. Hopefully we can learn from the expertise the Learning and Teaching Scotland has put together, a case study of which appeared in the TES recently.

Monday, 22 September 2008

PowerPointless?

It's hard to believe that Microsoft PowerPoint is 21 years old now! During my lengthy time in education I've seen some interesting PowerPoints, but I've also seen some awful ones, many of them delivered by adults! The desire to include lots of brightly coloured backgrounds and animated text is not just limited to students.

Whilst it's true that PowerPoint is a useful communication tool, it's not exactly cutting edge and needs to be used carefully within the classroom. Is it the right tool for the job? Is there something that might work better or be more appropriate, should we be using Slideshare to enable us to reach a wider audience, or Google Docs to allow collaborative work etc? Is PhotoStory a viable alternative, or even Movie Maker, or Animoto, or one of a range of other Web 2.0 type tools?


If we decide it is the right tool, how can we ensure we use it to achieve our objectives? Year 7 are tackling these issues as they look at preparing to give a presentation to their peers about themselves.
There are lots of tasks to carry out surrounding collection of resources before they think about creating their PowerPoint, do they need photos scanned, will they use sound, where can they source digital images?

Examples of poor design have already been looked at and students have been able to identify aspects of poorly made slideshows. This will hopefully allow them to avoid making mistakes when they give their presentation.

Giving the presentation is a different matter of course. This relies on speaking skills and presentational style. It's imprtant to remember that the slideshow is merely an aid to your presentation, not the actual presentation itself.

For those of you that need a little tech help with the software, here are a few suggestions;
http://presentationsoft.about.com/od/powerpoint101/a/begin_guide.htm

Useful short tutorials… ignore the ones that talk about inserting clip art!!

http://presentationsoft.about.com/od/classrooms/tp/student_tips.htm

Some good advice for students on how to create interesting presentations

http://www.teach-ict.net/software/ppt/powerpoint.htm

Easy to follow basic tutorials

http://office.microsoft.com/training/training.aspx?AssetID=RC011368101033

Slideshow Tutorial from Microsoft – too long to find out the answers, maybe, but the template creation video may be helpful to you.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Shanghai Jealousy!

I have to admit to more than a twinge of jealousy towards those HK schools that set off for Shanghai earlier this week for the 2nd Shanghai Learning 2.0 Conference. This new event was a huge success last year attracting an impressive list of speakers and attendees.

I'll be sure to be paying attention to the Conference Ning to keep up with developments and listen to speakers such as David Warlick.


Good luck to all present. Maybe I'll make it next year!

Fantasy Football League

After the success of last year's staff fantasy football league, won (very luckily!!) by Mr Lovell, we have now started a league for all of the school. Already we have over 40 players in the Kellett Students league (including some teachers) all ready for the launch on Saturday 20th September.


If you would like to join the league please let me know (e-mail or pop into the ICT suite) and I'll send you an invitation. The competition is free to enter, but make sure your team is ready to go by Saturday or you'll be behind from the start!


Good Luck!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The Gender Divide Hits Back

In the past we've discussed whether there's a gender divide in ICT. Are boys really more interested in computers than girls? With the new wave of games being produced by software companies that are marketed directly to young females I'd assumed that it was a pretty level playing field between boys and girls.

However I was a little surprised to receive my list of students who have signed up for Computer Club this term. They are nearly all boys! When you consider that some of the best work in Computer Club last year was created by girls this is a great shame and will cause us problems when we do tackle some of the digital video work we've got planned for later in the year. It could be back to the days of Shakespeare with boys having to take on the role of the lead female!

Maybe we should consider a project started some years ago in the UK called Computer Club For Girls (pictured). This DCSF funded project is now well established and has been a great success, as can be seen by a number of positive case studies. With ICT being an essential part of the career path of all of our students and the huge links with creativity across the curriculum it's vital that we work to address any divide that might exist.

Any thoughts and opinions gratefully received.... especially from female students!!!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

E-Safety Links

All Key Stage Two classes are now looking at aspects of E-Safety. The older students have been looking at chat rooms and how to avoid problems when using them.

Other year groups are looking at websites that help them to remember safe conduct. Here are a few of the links.





Younger students have also been watching episodes of Hector's World to help them make the right decisions when using computers.

Friday, 5 September 2008

A Message for the new academic year

Most schools always start the Autumn term with some kind of meeting to herald the new academic year, setting the goals and expectations. A sort of high school pep rally.

The Dallas Independent School District is no different except their pre-term meet involved all their schools and employees, some 17,000 adults. Their keynote speaker was a little different though, P5 student Dalton Sherman.

Dalton's words are a timely reminder....


Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Flip Video

One of our new Flip video cameras was used for the first time yesterday as the Year 7s spent a day at Treasure Island on Lantau. These cameras are so easy to use and downloading 25 separate video clips took around two minutes... so easy.

As can be seen from the picture, we're not the only ones who have them!!

Monday, 1 September 2008

E-Safety

Welcome back to the new school year!

As usual, all classes begin the new year with a look at aspects of E-Safety. We will look at the new Kellett Acceptable User Policy which all students and parents are required to sign. Copies can be found in your school diary - try to read it as soon as possible and explain what it means to your parents!

Students in P5 and P6 will be looking at chatrooms during their lessons and will be taught the guidelines for using these safely. A good starting point for this type of work is the website Chatdanger, which can be viewed here.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Where to Start???

We're back!

A huge thanks to Mrs Pattle and Ms Li for holding the fort over the summer months. There's still a massive amount to do before next week as can be seen by one of the many boxes of cable and leads pictured here.

Despite the hard work still needed there's plenty to look forward to in the forthcoming year and as always there are some new toys to play with, although not quite up to the example set by universities such as Duke in the USA who give all freshmen an iPod and iPhone. Let's hope they haven't left the staff out!

I'm thrilled that I was able to convince 2Simple to extend their amazing offer of their full software catalogue to overseas schools during my visit to the UK in the summer. All 28 titles have now arrived and these will soon be installed on every PC and laptop in the school. This software will allow class teachers to integrate ICT within the wider curriculum much more easily. I spent last night investigating around 10 of the programs and had great fun!

Hopefully we will soon be taking delivery of a new graphics package to replace our aged Photoshop Elements software... watch this space. The new term will also see us take delivery of Crazy Talk 5. This facial animation software is really exciting and could make a major impact in Literacy, allowing students to participate in digital storytelling, or in Humanities...



Earlier in the summer the Flip video camera was mentioned on these pages. A quick trip to Toys r Us in the UK a few weeks ago and we now have four of these all charged and ready to go! Year groups will also have new digital cameras to replace the aged ones they've been using in the past.

As usual there has been a huge influx of new computers in the last seven weeks. For the first time in a number of years we have purchased some machines other than Dell. We're keen to investigate a more mobile solution and whilst we considered the ASUS EPCs which have caused such a stir in the UK, we plumped for HP and their Mininotes. 16 of these will be available for our students to use, as well as another 16 of the traditional Dells that we have tried and tested in the past. We have also purchased a number of tablet PCs which will add a different dimension throughout the school, not least in the area of 'on the go' teacher assessment.

This huge amount of technology is all very well of course, but it's how you use it that counts. We are committed to ensuring that our students have full access to a curriculum that is up to date and relevant in the 21st Century and the ongoing professional development that helps us to do this is essential. This continues to be a challenge, but one that is both exciting and stimulating.

As somebody once said...

"It's not about the technology, dummy!"

or something like that!

Have a great year!