Friday, August 21, 2009

Synopsis – My eyes have been Opened!!

Well I can definitely say I have learnt a lot by completing this course. I thought I was using a lot of ICT’s in the classroom with PowerPoint, YouTube and music. How my eyes have been opened! I could not say I am a pro at using any of these technologies but I will adopt a lifelong learning approach to continually develop and expand my skills and knowledge. I understand our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet (Prensky, 2001), and as their learning managers we need to use technology tools that will engage and enhance student learning. The theorists I have been viewing these tools with conclude that that technology can facilitate engagement in ways which are difficult to achieve otherwise (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). Our students do require greater engagement as they just don’t tolerate the old ways—and they are enraged we are not doing better by them (Prensky, 2005).

While experimenting with the technology tools, I have been noting the approach I would like to take with each. I have concluded (and not limited to) that I would find the following tools valuable to enhance student learning and make my teaching more efficient.

Blogs & RSS – I am really excited to use blogging in my classroom. I would like to use it as a journal of students learning in various topics. I also would have a class blog where students can take turns writing a newsletter updating it for their parents. I think by having an RSS Aggregator would reduce the chasing up of assignment submissions and make my teaching more efficient.

Wikis – Learning managers could use this collaboratively with their students to compile information about topic. Students can contribute questions or research findings, photos and links to work together to build a great class site.

PowerPoint & SlideShare – Learning Managers can allow students to create presentations and share them via SlideShare. Students can leave thoughtful feedback and comments about each other’s work directly under the slideshow.

YouTube – This could be used to “hook” students into a topic. YouTube has such a large range of clips, that the learning manager could find one for nearly every topic. It could be to simply create excitement for a topic or a discussion starter. This is a technology tool I will use for a long time.

Voki – The learning manager could use avatars for many types of literacy or counting activities. Students could record themselves as the avatar counting, reading, explaining or journaling. I am excited about using this tool in my classroom, especially for literacy rotations.

File Storage – This would be a great way for the learning manager to have files ready for students and to access whenever they need to and from anywhere. It could eliminate the need to hand in lots of paper for assignments, students could simply upload their file for the learning manager to retrieve and grade. It would definitely make a teachers work more efficient.

I am becoming increasingly aware of the legal and ethical issues which come alongside the technology tools I am exploring. I especially want to be careful when it comes to teaching students how to manage their information and to protect against misuse. The CyberSmart site provides some practical ways to help protect your students. I believe educating them and the staff are a great start to tackling this issue. Also, it can be fun for students to create new identities to use online. Another issue is the vast amount of inappropriate material that the students could be exposed to. This could be material that is sexually explicit or offensive, violent or encourages activities that are dangerous or illegal (Australian Government, 2009). Education Queensland understands that inappropriate content may be potentially harmful or disturbing for their students and have policies and procedures in place to stop any indiscretions.

While there is so much information and technology which is readily available, it has also raised a number of issues related to copyright that must be considered in schools. This Education Queensland policy provides direction on accessing and using ICT’s by defining and promoting best practice for information systems and technology infrastructure (Department of Education and Training, 2009). Text, music, video clips, DVD’s, photos, articles and so much more are covered under the protection of copyright. By using material with a Creative Commons License it gives the public (teachers) permission to copy, distribute, and display material as long as the copyright holder is credited or the work is not altered or used for profit (Creative Commons, 2009).

I feel I have so much knowledge with so little experience. I can’t wait to trial these tools in my classroom. I am keen to explore the technologies more and enhance my knowledge so I can keep up with the digital natives. I really liked the article by Prensky (2005) and hit home that our students need to be taught in a way that will engage them, not by just reinventing the “old stuff”, but by using tools relevant to this generation. So, are you going to engage me today or enrage me? The choice is yours (Prensky, 2005).

Thanks for your time,


Australian Government. (2009). CyberSmart: Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from

Australian Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). (2008). Smartcopying: The Official Guide to Copyright Issues for Australian Schools and TAFE. Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from,

Creative Commons. (2009). About. Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from

Department of Education and Training: (2009). Guidelines: Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 18th, 2009, from

Prensky, M. (2005, September/October). Engage Me or Enrage Me. Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from

Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Thursday, August 20, 2009

WebQuest - Can I take you deeper?

I am very interested in this WebQuest! I have never seen one before today. However, after researching…a lot, I have discovered that it is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet (Wikipedia, 2009).

Students can discover things for themselves which can take them anywhere in the world. I liked that the students can work individually or collaboratively and at their own pace. In my searching’s I discovered that you can create your WebQuest with a “hook”, as a treasure hunt or a game. I can definitely see how WebQuests are designed from the learners point of view and create higher order thinking.

I will be going full force into it as I am to build an Inquiry-based WebQuest with a significant link to sustainability for my SOSE assignment. I understand that I will build it to scaffold the learners towards answering the key question and taking an action. I am very keen in seeing it work in full swing and especially as my inquiry is aimed at a year one class. I am interested to see how effective it will be with this age group considering I will put so much time and research into it. I did think the examples from the courseware were not as engaging as I thought they would be. After experimenting with technology tools for this course, I am keen to include some of them into my WebQuest.

I can see how the three components of the Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999) can be used with this technology tool.

Relate – The students can work in pairs or groups to find a solution to the inquiry.

Create – Students have a problem based task to work at. My year one students will find ways to protect the Australian Wildlife.

Donate – The outside focus will include the year one students hosting a mini awareness fair in the school to present their findings to their peers, staff and parents.

Stay tuned for a link and an update of how I go…

Til next time,



Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 18th, 2009, from

Wikipedia. (2009). WebQuests: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

VoiceThread - There's more than the name says!

I have just been playing with my new account with VoiceThread which is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate pages and leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). It also enables you to share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too (VoiceThread, 2009). I have been searching through the vast amount of threads and I was amazed at the work you can do with them. I can see it being used in my classroom as a story-telling tool, communication tool or even an assessment tool.

I have embedded a thread called VoiceThreads in Education (Packansky-Brock, 2007), which gives some practical ways to use this tool in the classroom. I particularly liked the example of the learning manager posting a discussion topic and having the students leave their comments. I think this is a great way to engage all students especially the ones who learn visually and allows students who may not like to participate feel more comfortable. The digital natives are used to this type of interactions. They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age (Prensky, 2001). VoiceThread is therefore, an engaging and useful tool for the classroom.

I am still new to this technology tool but am excited at the possibilities for my classroom.

Til next time,



Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Packansky-Brock, M. (2007). VoiceThreads for Education: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

VoiceThread. (2009). VoiceThread About. Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

Incompetech – Let’s start the next School of ROCK!

Incompetech is just what I have been looking for!! With copyright lurking around every corner – for music, photos and DVD’s, it is increasingly hard to use them in the classroom. However, with Incompetech under the Creative Commons License, teachers can use royalty free music for transitions, dancing, relaxing, play, pack-up, role-plays, with presentations – there is music to suit your mood and set the atmosphere.

In the popular film School of Rock, Jack Black, as substitute teacher Dewey Finn, leaps to the front of the classroom, whips out an electric guitar, and plays an original Led-Zeppelin-esque tune for his stunned fifth graders. Most teachers´ experiences with music in the classroom are a far cry from Black´s maniacal rock-and-roll antics—they find themselves on easier terms with a paper-towel-tube maraca than with a flaming red electric guitar (Prescott, 2005).

My year one students used music at least three times a day. We found that it calmed them down after a lunch break and it helped time how long they had to pack up. Integrating music with other subjects is one way to use some of its strengths and to enrich the entire curriculum. As one of Howard Gardner's major intelligence areas, music is valuable for its own sake as well as for what it can add to a lesson (Gardener, 2006).

Til next time,



Gardener, H. (2006). Multiple Intelligences: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

Prescott, J. (2005). Music in the Classroom: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

File Storage – The Dog ate my Homework!

“The dog ate my homework” was the old excuse, the new one is now “my computer crashed”. I know of schools having a policy that any “computer” excuses don’t count for extensions anymore. They have taught the students about and encourage them to use online sharing and storage devices. Online storage, such as MediaFire, can forever save the day. Here is a file which I have uploaded for sharing. It is a worksheet I took to school on my USB, printed out, copied and laminated for a Soundwaves activity. (I just realized how much admin we do as teachers).

Thong Words

After signing up for an account it was so easy to upload my files and manage them in folders. I have had problems where I had to delete or clear my USB because the file I needed for uni was too big and I am now so happy to have found this site. Simple to upload, simple to manage and simple to share is MediaFire’s (2009) slogan and I totally agree. This would be a great way for the learning manager to have files ready for students and to access whenever they need to and from anywhere. It could eliminate the need to hand in lots of paper for assignments, students could simply upload their file for the learning manager to retrieve and grade. Our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet (Prensky, 2001). Learning Managers should keep this in mind when approving extensions for the “someone stole my USB” or “my computer didn’t work” excuse because truthfully our students KNOW!!!

Til next time,



MediaFire. (2009). Learn More: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SlideShare – Presentation Fun!

I have just created a SlideShare account where individuals & organizations upload presentations to share their ideas and connect with others. Anyone can find presentations on topics that interest them. They can tag, download, or embed presentations into their own blogs & websites (Slideshare, 2009).

I can see how this tool would make life easier. It removes the need for everything to be on a USB. SlideShare stores your slides online; you can embed it onto your class wiki to share with families or for children who may have missed out on the class. I like the fact you can download slides of all topics to share with your students. You could use a picture slide, like the one embedded here, to engage your students into a topic. Or share an information or documentary slideshow with them, a bit like a YouTube clip.

This tool would have benefited my year 7 class, who made and presented PowerPoint displays on Global Economies. Students could have uploaded their slides and presented from the SlideShare site. Instead of students writing comments and feedback to their peers on paper, after watching the presentation, they could jump online and leave comments directly under the slideshow. I like that the Learning Manager can set up a class group on the site and the accounts can be set to private to protect the students’ identities. I also think the students would enjoy putting music or a voice recording with their slides. Prensky (2005) says that all of the students we teach have something in their lives that’s really engaging. So I think it is important to use tools such as this one which can be engaging, has a creative component to it and allows the digital natives some creative freedom.

Til next time,



Prensky, M. (2005, September/October). Engage Me or Enrage Me. Retrieved 19th, August, 2009, from:

SlideShare. (2009). SlideShare, About Us: Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from:

Wikipedia – True or false?

Wikipedia is a free, web-based and collaborative multilingual encyclopedia project. Wikipedia's 13 million articles (3 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone who can access the Wikipedia website. It is currently the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet.” (Wikipedia, 2009)

This kind of knowledge sharing isn't new to education. It's what all of us skilled educators are all about -- it's the format that has shaken up a few classrooms.

According to the Wikipedia FAQ (2009) "Articles may or may not be reliable and readers should always use their own judgment. Students should never use information in Wikipedia (or any other online encyclopedia) for formal purposes (such as school essays) until they have verified and evaluated the information based on external sources. For this reason, Wikipedia, like any encyclopedia, is a great starting place for research but not always a great ending place.”

However, it is a new method for getting information, compared to textbooks and dictionaries, the digital natives are all over this. As a learning manager we should make our students aware of the things to be careful of and let ‘em at it! An idea is to look with the class about their town, city or region and check if the information is right or if any is missing. Then they could work together to create a posting. How exciting for the students to have shared knowledge with the world about their own town.

As a thought maybe to have students create their own Wikipedia word wall via a class wiki. After introducing Wikipedia to them, have students collaboratively write their own encyclopedia according to the unit of work they are studying.

For today’s digital natives, Wikipedia is another tool we can use to present our curricula that engages them (Prensky, 2005). I definitely agree to get rid of those giant dusty encyclopedias and get the students online.

Til next time,



Prensky, M. (2005, September/October). Engage Me or Enrage Me. Retrieved 19th, August, 2009, from:

Wikipedia. (2009). Wikipedia. Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from:

Google Earth – Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego??

I recently downloaded Google Earth which allows the user to fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others (Google, 2009).

I must admit I was thinking fairly small-minded when it came to using this tool in the classroom, however, after reading Google Earth for Educators I saw it in a whole new light. (Always a learner!). When I thought of using this tool, all I could remember learning about the world from my schooling days was the game Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? How much would the students love setting up a Lit Trip while playing that game? (Old school reference).

I was pleased to find a Possum Magic Lit Trip. Combining Google Earth with literature (LitTrip) allows teachers to come up with activities that are highly creative for their students. This Lit Trip primarily aimed at the early year classes, focuses on the locations and foods featured in Mem Fox’s Possum Magic. This tool would be a great way to take the students thinking further after reading and studying Possum Magic. It could help the students find examples of geographic features described in the book, all around Australia. The lit trip also featured which food was eaten and in what town and even a link to the recipes. By using Google Earth students’ global awareness along with their vocabulary will be expanded.

Engagement theory does promote interaction, but human interaction in the context of group activities, not individual interaction with an instructional program (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). I agree with the engagement theory and believe that Google Earth as a learning tool would be greatly beneficial when used as a discussion point in groups or as a whole class. I think it would be great for students to explore the tool, but then come together and share what they have found.

I understand that my knowledge of this tool is somewhat limited and the example I have used is only for the early years. However, I am excited to learn how this tool can be used more and with the older year levels.

Til next time,



Google (2009) Google Earth: Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from

Podcasting – Listen to Me!!!

I am an iTunes junky. I have been downloading music and podcasts for so long and I love how accessible it is. I can download from wherever I am, at home on the computer or on my iPhone/ iPod out and about.

iTunes is free and has many useful educational songs and podcasts. The site also is easy to search and download which makes it a great resource for your classroom.

In my searching, I came across a subscription to Behind the News (or BTN) which is a kids news program put on by ABC. I was familiar with BTN as I watched it weekly with my year 7 students. The show can be seen twice weekly on free to air television and has great relevance to the students. The thing I do like with this podcast subscription is that it can be used at any time and when it is relevant to your unit topics. BTN also has a very teacher and student friendly website which includes teacher notes for each of their episodes.

I also like the “Hooked on Phonics” subscription for my early year classes. The learning manager could download as many or little as they needed and use these for literacy rotations, as a hook for a lesson, for practice or even having the students act out some of the stories that they tell. The episodes are very child friendly visually and they are easy listening.

It’s great that anyone can podcast themselves. Learning Managers could record themselves reading a book for a listening post or for older students to catch up on work with their MP3 player. Students could create their own Audio Podcast being a news reporter. The assignment – Audition to be the new Behind the News Crew Member. Students would research a current event and create a news item that could be podcasted.

Podcasting, is it the new listening post? No more damaged tapes and scratched CD’s? Prensky (2001) does say that today’s teachers have to learn to communicate in the language and style of their students. That doesn’t mean changing what is important but the way teach it and make it relevant to our students should be a priority.

Til next time,



Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

YouTube – Reel me in Teacher!!

I could spend so many hours watching the vast amount of videos on YouTube. Some are funny, comical, instructional, educational, music clips and the list goes on. It seems that absolutely anyone can get their face seen on this site. I have included a clip I used with my year 7 class.

I have used YouTube in one of my previous year 7 classes. After I used a YouTube clip once and found how engaged the students were, I sought to use it much over the term. The classroom only had one computer in the room that worked and was very slow, so I always downloaded the clip and put it on a DVD to use the class TV. I have recently found the site KeepVid which allows you to download these types of video streaming a lot easier. The clip I have embedded in this blog was used as a hook for a lesson on concept maps. I was teaching the students how to write information reports. It was a great way to hook the students into something that, to them, was not very exciting. I showed the clip on the cute dogs and cats sleeping and then asked the students to, in groups of three, create a concept map brainstorming ideas about cats and dogs the for an information report. Now the clip had nothing to do with their assignment (on world economies and global charity organizations) but provided them with content for a “lighter” practice before diving in with their own assignment.

The problem I have found with YouTube is that the content can be downloaded by anyone, even the 12 year olds in my class. I know a lot of content on YouTube is not for their eyes. Even the clip I have used, though the ending was not as inappropriate as some, I edited out the last 20 seconds to keep the clip relevant for the task. The clip you see here is the whole version before I have edited it. I was not able to access YouTube at the EQ School I was at. It was a protective measure set up by the school to stop any inappropriate material being seen by the students. For future use, I could continue to download the clips I want before the lesson or just as in the courseware I could embed the clips I want the students to see in a student safe site and one that is accessible at school.

I can see how YouTube is engaging for the “digital natives”. Prensky (2001) says Digital Natives are used to receiving their information really fast, they prefer their graphics before their text. Oliver’s (1999) Learning Design Construct enforces that content or resources learners interact with comes first, then the required activities, then the support mechanisms. Therefore, as the learning managers we need to use tools such as YouTube to hook the students in before throwing information and report templates at them. They will respond much more enthusiastically if we use tools that keep up with their pace.

Til next time,



Oliver, R. (1999). The Learning Design Construct: Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from

Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Quizzes – Who wouldn’t love testing?!?!

I have just created a test for my year one class with ClassMarker. You can see it here:

Hide and Seek with Carla Crocodile

It is intended for a literacy rotation. I have used it in conjunction with the Springboard books, in particular the level 9 book, “Hide and Seek with Carla Crocodile”. The students would read the book with an aide helper, log in to ClassMarker and respond to the questions. This is a tool that the learning manager could prepare in advance and be reused by different students as they reach the reading level. ClassMarker allows you to create a different way of testing which is more exciting than pen and paper. The quiz I created was only a true or false questionnaire which at this level cannot produce higher order thinking but requires the students to recall the story. The thing I liked about ClassMarker was that learning managers can create a quiz which will require the students to think a little more than recall. It can generate many question types such as multiple choice, punctuation, free text and essay format. I can see this tool being used under many KLA’s and by creating questions that produce higher order thinking, ClassMarker can be a great teaching and learning tool to utilize within the classroom.

I also like the idea of using it with older classes and allowing them to create mini quizzes for their peers. This would require backward thinking to create questions and ensuring they find the correct answers for the quiz.

Engagement Theory supposes that technology can facilitate engagement in ways which are difficult to achieve otherwise (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). I definitely think that ClassMarker can create a greater engagement in testing than a simple pen and paper routine. Gone are the days of sitting in rows with a HB pencil and a rubber.

I am excited to use this tool in my classroom and finding many different ways of using it.

Til next time,



Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Piknik – Photo Editing FUN!

I have been playing around on Piknik. I was having so much fun changing colours, resizing, adding borders, adding text and stickers on my photos that I lost track of time and realised I had been sitting and tweeking for over an hour. I have included some of the photos I was editing. I was also pleased to know that Piknik can link directly with Flickr, which I think is beneficial, because Piknik can not store your photos. So, once editied and happy, simply store and share them with Flickr. I was amazed the amount of editing tools available for FREE with Piknik, but for a small fee you can access many more effects. I found Piknik to be easy to use and understand, which got me thinking of ways that I could see it used in my classroom.

Students can demonstarte the Arts Essential Learnings by using Flickr and Piknik. They could experiment editing and using various colour shades and tints to create balance, contrast and patterns. (QSA, 2009). They could also manipulate images to create media texts. (QSA, 2009). Students can create storyboards, brochures, advertisments and posters using these tools. Engagement theory explains how these types of technology tools encourage the creativity and communication needed to nourish engagement (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999).

I am excited at the prospect of using these tools in my classroom and engaging my students with the technology that suits their generational requests.

Til next time,



Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 18th, 2009, from

QSA. (2009). The Essential Learnings: The Arts. Retrieved August 18th, 2009, from

Flickr – Great Image Resource!

I have just created a Flickr account, uploaded some photos from my holiday and made a stream on my blog. I did find this process trying and difficult to find my way around. However, after much playing around I was able to search for many different photos and found it a great resource. The image used was searched from a public “Commons” (Flickr, 2009). I loved searching through the vast amount of images on the site.

The site is used as an online photo management and sharing application. I could upload many photos online and share them with family and friends regardless of location.

During my photo exploring, I found that many images are student friendly. For my unit on wildlife, my students could search for relevant images, save them and use them for their displays. With the option of leaving notes and comments, students could post on peer images.

It could also be used as a photo share for a classroom. With parental permission, class photos could be contributed from recent works, experiments or excursions to be shared with families whenever and wherever they are.

Engagement theory tells us that the role of technology is to facilitate all aspects of engagement (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). Learning managers should not simply rely on this tool for their students to be engaged in higher order thinking but for it to be used as a teaching tool. The theory then encourages that technology fosters the kind of creativity and communication needed to nourish engagement (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999).

Til next time,



Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 15th, 2009, from

Flickr (2009). Mosaic: Retrieved August 18th, 2009, from

Monday, August 17, 2009


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.


I have used PowerPoint since I was in primary school and remember loving using the different effects, colours, pictures and fonts to make the display exciting. However, when I was creating a presentation for my students, I struggled to find ways of keeping the slides engaging. They were filled with text, some pictures and incorporated many types of effects. When I was looking through it I thought to myself, “How are they engaged by just watching this presentation?” and “What makes this different to a whiteboard?”. I wasn’t convinced, so I decided to add links to YouTube and to interactive websites, music, and animations, before it really got exciting.

As a teacher based presentation tool - The effectiveness of PowerPoint is determined by the user and the content that they employ. A PowerPoint presentation in its simplest form, displaying content could be the same as using a whiteboard. Learning managers should not assume their students are engaged by using a PowerPoint presentation.

Engagement Theory explains that students are intrinsically motivated to learn due to the meaningful nature of the learning environment and activities (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). Therefore, for a PowerPoint presentation to be engaging, it must contain content that is meaningful and allow students to interact with the technology.

I believe PowerPoint can be a great timesaver for learning managers. By using PowerPoint instead of a blackboard or whiteboard, learning mangers have more hands on time with their students. Also, using different media elements in the PowerPoint can help engage students of all learning styles.

Til next time,



Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 15th, 2009, from

Voki – Creating a New You!

I have been having fun playing and creating Avatars!!

“A Voki is a talking voice character, a computer-generated version of oneself. The more generic term for a Voki is a speaking avatar, a digital representation of a person or being.” (Dyer, 2009).

The Avatar I have created I intended for an early phase class, particurlarly prep or year one. I see it being used as part of the literacy rotations. The learning manager could make these prior to the class and change the text to suit the activities.

The task: Choose 3 avatars and complete the activities in the alloted time.

The students would then listen to the task from the avatar, which is to find an object in the room and place it in the box. At the end of rotations, students could explain their items. An avatar used in this role could then be used when short on parent or aide helpers.

The learning manager could use avatars for many types of literacy or counting activities. Students could record themselves as the avatar coutning, reading, explaining or journaling. I am excited about using this tool in my classroom.

I have been researching and have found that avatars have been successful in many classrooms of all ages. I particularly liked the thoughts put forward on Classroom 2.0 (2009). These ideas are from educators who have used and found these ideas successful.

• Students can create avatars that are similar in looks or personalities and record a message that tells about themselves.
• Students can exchange these avatars with e-pals either within their own setting or anywhere in the world.
• Students can generate questions to ask their avatar e-pals.
• ESL (English as a Second Language) students can use the speaking avatars to practice and listen to their speech. They may use the computerised voice first then record their own voice when they feel more comfortable. Writing, reading and pronunciation are all practised.
• Students can create an avatar that resembles a character from a story, add a setting and give it speech. The speech could be from the story or a creative point of view from the character on an event.

“Engage Me or Enrage Me” by Marc Prensky (2005) says that back in the day the kids didn’t expect to be engaged by everything they did. There were no video games, no CDs, no MP3s—none of today’s special effects. Those kids’ lives were a lot less rich—and not just in money: less rich in media, less rich in communication, much less rich in creative opportunities for students outside of school. As educators of digital natives, we must ensure tools such as Avartars are used to keep our students engaged. Prensky (2005) goes on to say, that even if you are the most engaging old-style teacher in the world, you are not going to capture most of our students’ attention the old way. So we have to find how to present our curricula in ways that engage our students.

I really liked the article by Prensky and hit home that our students need to be taught in a way that will engage them, not by just reinventing the “old stuff”, but by using tools relevant to this generation.

Til next time,



Classroom 2.0 (2009). Retrieved 17th, August, 2009, from:

Dyer, K. (2009). Voki – Avatars in the Classroom. Retrieved 17th, August, 2009, from:

Prensky, M. (2005, September/October). Engage Me or Enrage Me. Retrieved 17th, August, 2009, from:

Mahara – Professional version of Facebook??

So I have created a Mahara account, which is an open source ePortfolio and social networking web application. It provides users with tools to create and maintain a digital portfolio. Users can create a ditgital resume (containing education, skills, ambitions, etc.), run one or more blogs, upload and manage files and stay in contact with other users. The user can also create his own groups within the community. Therefore Mahara is much more than just a place to store data (Wikipedia, 2009).

My account is still fairly empty; however, I am enjoying the process of finding things I am proud of to add. Having this account has made me aware of how my students may feel having their works displayed and being a part of documenting their learning. Education Queensland says that children gain great enjoyment and a sense of pride when learning is captured and displayed and their articulation of these experiences is fostered (Department of Education and Training, 2009).

Portfolios in the classroom:
• Can record a child’s ongoing development over time – A portfolio can follow the child wherever they go.
• Involves the children assessing their own work - As children participate in the portfolio process, they begin to reflect on and understand their own strengths and needs.
• As a method of Communication - Portfolios are a collaborative effort involving teachers, children, parents, and often other family members too.

The E-Portfolio is to make every student’s learning visible through powerful reflective conversation and for every student’s digital portfolio to be a dynamic celebration and story of deep learning (Department of Education and Training, 2009).

I am excited to create digital portfolios for my students. I am particularly interested in experimenting with children’s voiceovers and videos. I like that I can build my own with Mahara and get a sense for how my students will feel.

Til next time,



Department of Education and Training. (2009). Smart Classrooms. Retrieved August 17th, 2009, from:

Wikipedia. (2009). Mahara. Retrieved August 17th, 2009, from:

WIKI – A classroom from…anywhere!

“A social website is a type of website with pages that anyone can edit and contribute to, including text, photos, videos, polls, and more. Because many people can contribute to a social website, the content grows quickly as a result of collaboration. Users can easily and quickly build on the work of others by adding new content—and even new pages—to the social website.” (Wetpaint, 2009).

I have made a WIKI site with Wetpaint. Take at look at my wildlife adventures site at:

The Wiki I have created is intended for a year one class to collaboratively use to show parents the learning journey. It would be used on a smart board and replace butchers paper diaries and KWL’s and whiteboard discussions. We would upload pictures of excursions, experiments and students work. By doing this parents are able to access this site wherever they are and leave comments and questions and feel they are a part of the journey. I also like the fact that Wikis can be invite only access and you can control what the parents can contribute to. This creates a safe space for families online.

After much trolling around the Wetpaint site, I found a great page of ideas and resource. Here is what I found:

Wikis in the classroom:
Group projects: Students work together in one place to research, outline, draft, and edit projects within the wiki
Assignments: Post homework, course materials, study guides, and more.
Resource Collections: Organize articles, websites, videos, and other resources for students
Peer Review: Post questions for student brainstorming, or have students post papers for peer feedback
Group FAQ: Students and/or teachers post and respond to questions on a given topic
Parent Involvement: Give parents a chance to be a part of the classroom and stay up to date on classroom news and events
Online Newspaper: Create a student-published online newspaper
(Wetpaint, 2009).

It also goes on to provide templates for a classroom site and for group projects. As well as having a forum for educators to share the ways they have used Wikis in their classroom. What a resource! Wetpaint has made it so easy for the use of Wikis in the classroom.

Engagement theory can be seen in this technology tool – Relate – Create – Donate. Wikis are a collaborative tool which emphasizes team efforts that involve communication, planning, management and social skills (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). Wikis are a great way to work together from outside the classroom and even across continents. Prensky (2001) argues that digital natives are more connected than other generations through technologies such as mobile phones, email and chat lines. Communication is a much more connected and global experience for this generation than has been possible in the past.

Til next time,



Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 15th, 2009, from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-5.

Wetpaint. (2009). Wikis in the Classroom. Retrieved August 17th, 2009, from:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Can’t keep up?? Get yourself an RSS Aggregator!

RSS or Really Simple Syndication is a great way to stalk... I mean keep up to date with sites that have an “RSS Feed”. After setting up a Google Reader I was able to follow news sites and other blogs without chasing up each page individually. “Google Reader is a Web-based aggregator, capable of reading Atom and RSS feeds online or offline” (Wikipedia. 2009). For those of you that speak “Facebook” will understand it when I say you can get a news feed of all of your friends’ activity, is the same as Google Reader showing all of the updates of your favourite sites.

Google Reader is a great way to stay connected in this fast paced world. Time is precious and technology is changing and defining our thinking (Siemens, 2004). Google reader not only allows us to be engaged in our learning activities but enables us to interact with others (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). Siemens (2004) goes on to say that a significant trend in learning is technology and that it is altering (or rewiring) our brains.

With this in mind, our teaching tools should continually include technology. Google Reader in the classroom could be used for teachers to keep track of their students’ progress, used for students to track their peers and information sites or for parents to stay informed on what the class and their child is up to.

During term one, I had a year 7 class and the unit was “Sharing the Wealth” where students invested $50 (pretend) into the Australian Stock Market. Students were bi-weekly looking up web addresses and looking for stock prices for their assignments. I believe the students’ time could have been more effective if they had an RSS Aggregator set up to monitor changes on topic-specific sites. It would allow them to organize and streamline the large quantity of content on the web.

As an Early Childhood Major I am continually seeking ways of incorporating these types of technologies with the younger ones and think the choices of technologies deserves some extra attention. I see this particular tool (RSS), not for the younger children to use directly but as an informant; a great way to stay in touch with relevant information in the field and educating parents to stay tuned for updates.

Til next time,



Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 15th, 2009, from

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 15th, 2009, from

Wikipedia. (2009). Google Reader. Retrieved August 15th, 2009, from:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Teaching the Natives!!

Goin on a bear hunt
I'm not scared
Gonna catch a big one
I'm not scared
Oh look! It's some new digital technology!!
Can't go over it
Can't go under it
Can't go around it
Got to go through it

Funny concept – teaching the natives – It’s like me trying to teach Japanese to Japanese people – I don’t even know the language!!!! However, Prensky (2001) says that learners (like myself) can be categorised as digital natives. Natives are born into and grow up enveloped by digital technology and therefore develop a specific language and syntax around the technology, whereas immigrants are forced to adapt to a digital world.

I may consider myself a native with my i-phone, laptop, facebook, twitter, google reader, i-tunes, i-pod, podcasts, 3 email addresses and web pages, but there are definitely times when I feel like an immigrant. When I see so many types of technology and 6 years olds using i-phones; my year one students making power point displays; when I couldn’t – it can become overwhelming.

Though, I am excited at what these blogs will inspire me to do in the classroom. This blog alone can become a great resource of tools and ideas for the practicing teacher. Please comment and add your great thoughts too.



Thursday, August 6, 2009