Friday, 29 June 2012

Google #3: Google Docs tips and tricks

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The Internet is full of posts relating to all the things you can do with Google Docs. It is an amazing suite especially when it is used in combination with Google Chrome. 

Some of my favourite tips

1. I love the fact that you can upload any document such as a Microsoft PowerPoint and immediately be given an URL to share in whatever way you choose. This means that in a blog, for example, you might want to share a PowerPoint link without having to put it to Slideshare, or you might want to share a Word document. I thought Box.net was the best way to do this but Google Docs is just as good.

2. The Chrome extensions are amazing! For example, I LOVE the way that when you are browsing the Internet and you come across a website you like...OK, you can bookmark it in Diigo, BUT, if you want a more tangible form like a PDF of the page you just click on the extension Send to Google Docs. The DocWatch extension is also useful for collaboration and seeing if the document you are working with has been added to since you last looked. The third extension I LOVE is not necessarily for Google Docs but is the Dictionary extension where you can double click on any word on a web page and get the meaning. This is so useful for our students. Is there any wonder that Chrome is my favourite browser! Across the top of my Google Chrome browser I have all the little extensions I love to use - Scoop.it, scrible toolbar for annotating, Diigo, Send to Google Docs, WatchDoc, Dictionary - the list is growing daily!

The following presentation outlines a few of my favourite tips and tricks from Google Docs.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Google #2: You’ll definitely love using Google forms


Google Forms is probably one of the most useful and often underutilized Google tools. They can be used for so many different things as I will show you below. They can be embedded into blogs, wikis and websites or can just be stand-a-lones on the web.  Each form creates its own spreadsheet that captures and collects the responses quickly and easily.  


Here are some of the uses I have discovered:
•You can use them for general surveys
•You can get quick input from others on various topics
•Use a Google form for various kinds of evaluation such as creating and posting short quizzes online. 
•Create a survey before and after a lesson/discussion
•Use it to collect data
•The students can fill in answers to questions in a test
•You can get feedback after a lesson
•It makes a great book review form 

Thus, a Google form is a great tool in the hands of an educator.  If you would like to make one, here are two presentations that could help. The first one looks at the seven different kinds of questions you can ask using a Google form. The second one shows you how to go about making a Google form. I hope you’ll find them helpful.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Google #1: Have you discovered Google Docs?

Have you discovered Google Docs? It is one of the best technology finds available! What I love most about it is its versatility
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Just recently I have been exploring Google Docs more fully and here are some of the things I have really enjoyed about using it:

Benefits of  using Google Docs

*When you create and or store files in your Google Documents account, those files are available from wherever you go, through any computer with an Internet connection. This means that you don’t have to send file attachments to yourself via email, carry a flash drive, or worry about file compatibility.

*Google Docs can have a multitude of people writing on the same document at the same time – it’s great for collaboration.

*I love the fact that you don’t have to save – it saves everything automatically.

*You can easily share documents with others even if they don’t have a Google account. Once a document is shared comments suggested edits can be placed in the margins of the document, which is great for marking purposes.

*Google Docs have a web link so they can be shown as webpages when you want to show someone somewhere else something.

*Google Docs is now integrated into Google Drive which means you can now install Google Drive on all the computers you work on and work offline. It will sync everything just like Dropbox does.

*Google Docs gives you 5Gb of free space which won’t take all your photos etc – but it is big enough to be very useful.

*You can keep your documents in folders.

*Google forms have so many amazing uses. You can set tests on them etc.

*You can upload AND download easily to Microsoft Office.

Create your own Google document

Actually…the list of benefits is endless… So my advice is, open a Google account if you don’t already have one and start experimenting with Google Docs which are now housed in Google drive. Oh yes, one tip – try and use Google Chrome as your browser with Google Docs – the two go together like a horse and carriage! 
 
Once you have joined Google and you want to explore Google Docs, well, why not create a Google document while you are about it? Here is a Slideshare with some pointers if you need them.

See? What did I tell you? Google Docs is an amazing suite!

Adobe Youth Voices webinar on June 28


SchoolNet SA runs a multimedia programme for Adobe, for South African teachers, called Adobe Youth Voices. We would like to announce their upcoming webinar on June 28th. If you are interested in joining this webinar which is given in US time, please go to http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html to convert the webinar time to your time zone. 

Details of the webinar

We're writing with a special reminder about the Webinar on Working with Special Populations coming up this Thursday, June 28.  (Please note slight time change.)

Title: Working With Special Populations 
Time: June 28 - at 8am PST / 10am CST / 11am EST US
Presenters: Presented by Lead Educators Justin Warren and Hank Machtay
Information: Adobe Youth Voices programs exist in many different contexts connecting with lives and experiences of youth from all over the world. How are the unique needs of youth addressed in these programs? Join AYV Lead Educators Hank Machtay and Justin Warren as they share their approaches and insights on working with the youth in their programs.
To join the meeting, Login as a Guest here: http://edc.adobeconnect.com/ayvweb/
Note: If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before:
Test your connection: http://edc.adobeconnect.com/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm
Get a quick overview: http://www.adobe.com/go/connectpro_overview

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A day at TEDxCapeTown ED on 16 June 2012


Submitted by Fiona Beal

Imagine receiving a phone call on the morning of the totally booked-out TEDxCapeTownED event on 16 June and being asked, “Would you still like to attend TEDx – we have a ticket for you?” Well, it happened to me, and I got there at lightning speed as excited as a kid in a candy store! What a worthwhile day it proved to be – with the words of movers and shakers in education pounding at one's heart and leaving their mark. 


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Let me explain what a TEDx event is. The famous international TED talks are riveting short talks given by remarkable people on relevant topics. The TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. This particular event centred around education – 19 twelve minute talks by innovative thinkers in South African education.

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There’s no doubt that education in South Africa has a long way to go and many of the speakers echoed this feeling. Solly Philander said of his now grown-up children, “I had to apologise to my children for sending them to school.” Now that might be taking things a bit far, but then Dr Mamphela Ramphele, who was introduced as someone who ‘says it like it is’, said our failed system has only one competitor… At that point she placed on the screen a picture of the sinking ship ‘Costa Concordia’. “Our education system is on the rocks,” she said. Sam Paddock painted a gloomy picture of Unisa’s distance education saying that it is ‘too distant'. Out of 300,000 enrolled students only 9% graduate. Professor Ian Scott from UCT gave alarming statistics of our Higher Education drop out rate. “Higher education has not come to terms with the needs of students”, he said.  

But TEDx wouldn’t be TEDx if speakers left us drowning in the pool of doom and gloom. The picture IS marred, and many, many children have been lost to a poorly managed system but the innovative solutions that were offered by the speakers planted seeds of hope. 

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Here are just a few of the highlights that I noted. Brent van Rensburg spoke on ‘Your failures are our superstars’ and stressed how important it is for teachers to go with their students’ strengths rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Students from his Zip Zap circus show illustrated his point with their amazing expertise and skill. Steve Sherman, the MD of Living Maths, related how a teacher once said to him as a child, “I think you should drop Maths". Fortunately he didn’t listen!  Richard Malholland spoke about the different kind of career paths that await our students. ‘They will resemble mindmaps’. He caused a reaction from the audience when he suggested that degrees have a sell-by date of maybe five years unless certain requirements are met in professional development! Tim Noakes urged  teachers to become like coaches who “generate belief in themselves in the students we teach".
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John Gilmour encouraged us to concentrate on producing good mothers and fathers for the sake of society. At least two of the speakers suggested that  all graduates spend two years in community service teaching before continuing with their own career paths. Christopher Hagspihl has been doing just that, teaching Maths in a township school before continuing with a career in banking, and he spoke of the rewards of such an experience. Leigh Maynert who co-founded a business university at age 25 with no educational background spoke of nurturing the souls of students. TSiBA Institute has produced four Nelson Mandela Rhodes scholars in the last few years. Each and every speaker added their flavour to the pot as the day progressed.

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Judging by the tweets on the Twitter stream we all left inspired and refreshed by the ideas of others put forward during the day. It was the kind of day one wouldn't want to have spent in any other way! It was also a day of connecting with old friends (like my TeachMeet buddies from Somerset West pictured above), and making new ones. But the question always is…What now? Inspired as we are by events like this, is it going to lead to any major change anywhere? Is government likely to listen? I guess the conclusion we are forced into adopting is that WE have to do our bit in society as transformative agents. It is actually up to us! Dr Mamphela Ramphele left us with these words, "We are ALL responsible for improving education." 

Note: If you would like to listen to any of these talks, the videos are now available online at http://www.tedxcapetown.org/videos

Monday, 25 June 2012

Gauteng Vodacom ICT Resource Centre Launched


Submitted by Megan Rademeyer from SchoolNet
On 13 June 2012 the third of nine provincial ICT Resource Centres was
launched in Sunnyside, Tshwane by the Gauteng MEC for Education, Barbara
Creecy. The intention of the Vodacom Resource Centres is to help the
Department of Education to meet its goal of exposing a significant number of
learners to ICT and to upgrade the quality of instruction given by teachers.

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Gauteng MEC for Education, Barbara Creecy

"Improving the quality of education is mission critical for the future of
South Africa and skilled teachers are a key element of the education value
chain," said Head of Innovation and Partnering at Vodacom, Portia Maurice.

Barbara Creecy said at the launch, "The establishment of this computer centre is in line with government's commitment to making schools resource rich environments that also promote the use of modern information and communication technologies to improve Maths and Science teaching in the classroom." 

SchoolNet SA has been commissioned by the Vodacom Foundation to train staff
who will be based at the Centres in resource centre management. SchoolNet is
also training trainers at each Centre to be able to offer the Sizanani ICT
Skills for Community Members
course, the Microsoft ICT Skills for Teachers
and HelpDesk courses, as well as the Intel Getting Started course.
Click on http://www.digitalclassroom.co.za for more information

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

2012 iEARN Adobe Youth Voices Media Festival starts today

Submitted by Omashani Naidoo from SchoolNet
SchoolNet runs an Adobe Youth Voices project in various schools in South Africa and so we are advertising the international 2012 Virtual iEARN Adobe Youth Voices Media Festival which starts today. Join Adobe online for free to support youth media makers from around the world who will be screening their videos at the event. 

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When?
June 20: 18:00-19:00 GMT = 2:00-3:00 pm New York City time
June 21: 20:30-21:30 GMT = 4:30-5:30 pm New York City time

June 22: 10:00-11:00 GMT = 6:00-7:00 am New York City time
Where?
Online in iEARN's Adobe Youth Voices Connect Room - http://iearn.adobeconnect.com/ayv Educators and the youth artists whose work has been selected will have an opportunity to speak to the audience about their work.

The programme
This looks very interesting

June 20: 18:00-19:00 GMT
2:00-3:00 pm New York City time


Make Your Own Kind of Happiness
Instituto Parroquial Nuestra Señora de Lourdes, Argentina
A Rainforest Fable
Fieldcrest Elementary School, Canada
Absent Parents
Prepa Ibero, Mexico
Isn't it Our Home?
Izz Basic Education School, Oman
Differences Can Make the World's Greatest Portrait
Centro Interescolar de Linguas de Ceilandia, Brazil
June 21: 20:30-21:30 GMT
4:30-5:30 pm New York City time
Planting a Tree
Centro de Ensino Fundamental Telebrasilia, Brazil
This Is My Home
MakHill Media, Uganda
A Voice for Orphans
PMM Girls' School, Uganda
The Bullying Monster
Madre de la Misericordia School, Argentina
Human Rights
EE Prof. José Pinto Marcondes Pestana, Brazil
June 22: 10:00-11:00 GMT
6:00-7:00 am New York City time
Smile 2012 Japan
Nishi Junior High School, Japan
The Forgotten Lives
Shanghai Pudong Foreign Languages School, China
I Want My Life Back
College of Electronics in Minsk, Belarus
Forest Story
Braslav Gymnasium, Belarus
Special Not Different
Colegiul National Ecaterina Teodoroiu, Romania
Be Clean, Keep Clean
SITE Model, Government B/G Secondary School, Pakistan
Class Is...
Kostyukovichi State Gymnasia, Belarus 

Read more on the Adobe website

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Six fun competitions for SA teachers and their classes

Submitted by Fiona Beal
There are a number of competitions available for SA teachers at the moment. I will advertise them here by their closing dates:

1. (21 June closing date): Sub-Saharan Africa Schools Olympic Truce Competition

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 Click here for more information on the Olympic Truce competition.

The competition is simple and flexible, to meet the needs of any classroom. It gives students the opportunity to go beyond sport and learn about the ideals behind the Games. Pupils will work together as a team, participate in exploratory learning and engage with the spirit of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Winning entries will be selected from each of the following regions - Eastern Africa, Western Africa and Southern Africa. The winning schools will receive £500 to run an international event for pupils, teachers and the school community. The winning class will receive a certificate, and you’ll also get the opportunity to show your work to a wider audience. Winning entries will be displayed in a special online gallery and in exhibitions at the British Council office in your country.

Competition formats
Entries to the competition should be in one of the following three formats:
Poster - A3 size, scanned or digitally photographed
Digital presentation - PowerPoint, slideshow, Photo Story or any other digital format
Newspaper or magazine article - digital text format (MS Word, Adobe PDF or similar) with or without photos

Getting started
We’ve got a range of great ideas to kick start your school’s work on the Games. Download our free project templates, get inspiration from the Olympic Truce Project Templates, or take a look at our Olympic Truce learning resources. And find out what other teachers from around the world are doing in our discussion forum.

2. (19 May 2012 to 1 September 2012): Global Rockstar competition
http://www.global-rockstar.com/?ct=t(New_Contest6_12_2012)


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After the great success of http://www.global-rockstar.net
we launched http://www.global-rockstar.com today
to give musicians and bands great opportunities to promote their careers globally
Become Global Rockstar 2012 & get featured on the new album.
Go to http://www.global-rockstar.com. to find out more.


It is simple!

1. upload your video or share a YouTube Link on Global Rockstar from 19 May 2012 to 1 September 2012
2. get people to vote for your video from 1 September 2012 to 1 December 2012.



Go to http://e-classroom.co.za/category/competitions/ for more details plus the entry form. This competition is for 6 – 14 years old students

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To enter the competition, all learners need to do is draw a NEW character for “The Amazing World of Gumball”, and to incorporate their character into a colourful poster design.
There are only two conditions: the learners’ work must be original (so no tracing); and as imaginative and original as possible! 

4. (21 September 2012 - closing date): Classroom of the Future Grade 6 competition

Go to http://e-classroom.co.za/category/competitions/  for more details plus the entry form

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What should teamwork, originality, communication, and critical thinking look like in a classroom of the future? What tools and systems should today’s teachers use to prepare their students for tomorrow?

5. (30 September - closing date ) Lucky Star competition
 

Go to http://e-classroom.co.za/category/competitions/ for more details plus the entry form

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Learners need to create their very own unique and delicious fish dish and submit their entries. Your entries should include: The recipe of your fish dish typed or written out Photos showing us your delicious fish dish Open to all Schools and Age Groups. 

6. (31 October 2012 - closing date): Collect-a-can 2012 Schools Competition

Go to http://e-classroom.co.za/category/competitions/ for more details plus the entry form




Monday, 18 June 2012

Microsoft webinar (for SA teachers) on assessing collaboration and 21st century skills

Microsoft has embarked on an 'Innovative Teaching and Learning' (ITL) research programme. They will be hosting workshops and webinars on LEAP21. The first webinar on 18 July from 6pm - 6:30pm will focus on the first of the five dimensions 21st century learning (collaboration).This discussion Forum will allow all participants of LEAP21 training to connect and discuss the topic.


View the discussion forum on the Partners in Learning Network for details on joining the webinar. Note that if you haven't listened to a webinar before using Lync you will need to download Lync attendee. In the discussion forum referred to above you will find a PDF with detailed instructions on how to join a Lync webinar
More about this upcoming webinar
This discussion will focus on innovative teaching and learning approaches and how the LEAP21 material supports this.

LEAP21 is based on the way ITL Research studies and measures innovative teaching practices. LEAP21 asks teachers and school leaders to analyse and 'score' learning activities to see how deeply they integrate 21st century skills, collaborate in designing new learning activities that provide deeper 21st century skills development, examine the impact of these learning activities on students' work, and use ICT as part of the process.

Teachers who go through this process say it gives them a clear and practical way to integrate 21st century skills in their own teaching. LEAP21 requires that educators be active and engaged knowledge-builders, adopting and using the very skills they are seeking to instill in their students: collaboration, knowledge-building, self-regulation and assessment (or learning to learn) and use of technology for learning. Through the programme, teachers become learners of their own teaching practices by studying the impact of their teaching on students LEAP21 guidelines help teacherss identify and understand the opportunities that learning activities give students to build 21st century skills. 

What to do to join this discussion
Angela Scheaerer, Microsoft's APM from South Africa, says about the first webinar on 18 July: "We are looking forward to hosting the first LEAP21 webinar on Wednesday 18 July. Here's how it will work:
1. Download the lesson plans and rubrics so that you have these available during the webinar - it will be an interactive session with activities using these resources.
2. Follow the the directions in the document "How to join a Lync conference call". We recommend you do this ahead of time as you need to download and install an attendee client the first time you join.
3. Click on the link called Join the online meeting in "related content" above or from the Word document. Try and join a few minutes early in case you have any problems.

Friday, 15 June 2012

TeachMeet at Microsoft, Johannesburg on 4 June – inspiring!


Submitted by Fiona Beal
On Monday 4 June 2012 at 15:00 Microsoft hosted its second TeachMeet at its Johannesburg offices. Teachmeets are the new informal type of professional development where teachers share for three minutes by means of a laptop and data projector on something they have done in their classrooms involving technology integration. Approximately 120 teachers, including officials from the Department of Education in Gauteng and North West Province, squeezed into the allocated room to hear what the 13 presenters had to say. Microsoft planned a scintillating programme for the afternoon and, after the presenters had finished sharing, the attendees were also shown Office tips and tricks, demonstrations on Windows 8 and a preview of the new Microsoft slate which will be launched later in 2012. 

Following along using Twitter

Those of us who couldn’t attend the TeachMeet physically followed on the Twitter hashtag #msedu. Maggie Verster, sometimes called the ‘Twitter Queen’, started off the event on a high note by showing delegates how to join this social networking, microblogging sensation using their phones. Twitter is still the no. 1 web tool on most ‘Best of…’ lists around the world. 

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Maggie Verster getting everybody on to Twitter via their cell phones

Here’s what the teacher presenters had to say

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9 of the 13 presenters

Abdulla Sujee presented on how he uses authentic learning opportunities as a powerful strategy to engage students in real world scenarios. He makes use of social media and online museums. He sees the classroom as a live museum and gets his students to connect with others globally and tell their stories. 

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Sean Hampton-Cole from Crawford College, Lonehill, showed how he uses Edmodo, a free classroom management platform along the lines of Moodle or Obami and several others.  Edmodo helps create a classroom community and encourages interactive learning. It has a similar design to Facebook which makes it very appealing to students. It offers students badges which act as a great incentive.  http://www.edmodo.com/

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Tracy Tcshlol from North West Christian College demonstrated Numberwise, a free computer program designed to help primary students to master the 4 basic operations of +, -, x and ÷. It covers basic numeracy, Mental Maths, number facts, tables & bonds. There are 150 lessons that increase in difficulty. http://www.numberwise.com/

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Karen Walstra from St Stithians Preparatory School for Boys talked about Google’s online safety programme for students and showed how to set safety filters for students. http://www.google.com/goodtoknow/familysafety/

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Saul Pila from the Gauteng North District Deprtment of Education  showed how blogging can be a very useful tool in an English classroom for encouraging learning about English idioms.

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Hlengiwe Mfeka spoke about having a positive attitude and using cell phones in the classroom.She encouraged teachers in under-resourced schools to continue in their efforts and keep pushing the limits.

Tim Schaerer from St Stithians Girls College spoke about using the autocorrect options in Microsoft Office to quickly create standard front pages for exams. 

Robyn Clark from the Sekolo Sa Borokgo school spoke about using cell phones as a support for learning Maths in High School. She said that what works in her classroom is:
  • Twitter: posting homework and links
  • Facebook: posting homework and links
  • BBM / Mxit / Whatsapp: study buddies
Robyn gave tips on how she creates student profiles for these applications. 

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Paul Wilton from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls spoke on Digital Study Aids. He showed how he gets the OWLA students to create beautiful, colourful mindmap-like study notes.  

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Ron Naude
from the North West University in Potchefstroom was dialled in using the Lync webinar programme to present on My Yesa passport. This programme uses Mxit as it is cheap and social and students love using it for learning. http://yesa.org.za/ 

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Lyneth Crighton
from Brescia House presented on different ways of creating historical posters using free applications such as BigHugeLabs. http://bighugelabs.com/


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Christopher Seewald
from Pecanwood College spoke on Introducing Cloud Computing to Grade 7 using Microsoft Skydrive and Office 365 as his cloud base. His students use their Skydrives to access the school’s Sharepoint. The whole office suite is free online. 

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Angie Barclay
from Cornwall Hill College spoke on The Value of One Note for Preschool Teaching. http://www.microsoft.com/office/rm/onenotewebapp.aspx
 
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TeachMeets are a way of keeping up with digital trends

Events like this enable teachers to see what is happening in other schools and find ideas they can implement back at their own school. As Public Sector lead at Microsoft South Africa Kabelo Makwane says: “Keeping up with the trends of a digitalised community, teachers are much more open and willing to share lesson ideas with fellow teachers and try out new ideas in this way. These regular TeachMeet events are a wonderfully visible portion of our Partners in Learning programme, which focuses on building capacity and communities to, in the end, benefit the learners.” 

More photos of the event can be viewed here.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Have you tried creating a project using the new project tab on a Wikispaces wiki? Instructions follow!

Submitted by Fiona Beal

If you are a teacher that loves project-based teaching and connecting with classes around the world you'll know that Wikispaces is the perfect platform to use.  But did you know this? Wikispaces has added an amazing new feature to their free education version platform called Projects. This new feature allows you to create a special place for your project within your classroom wiki. In other words, you don’t have to create a separate project wiki for your classroom projects.



Set up a project for your class within your own Wikispaces wiki

In your normal classroom wiki you can:
  • Set up a project or even a number of different projects
  • Assign students to teams if necessary (a team could have just one student)
  • Control editing and viewing privileges for each team’s space
  • Use templates created specifically for that project. A project template can be used as a starting point or home page.
Each team space will have their own copy of the page which means they can interact with it, instead of just viewing it. Templates can include text, graphics, multimedia, links and any number of embeddable resources. Imagine an interactive, multi-media project rubric students can use to document work and self-evaluate as they go!

Teams of students can easily create new pages within their team space that are automatically linked to their home page for easy navigation.
Basically, as someone put it, “the Projects feature allows organizers to create a wiki within a wiki!”

I think this can best be explained by means of a Slideshare.

How to create a template using for a project using Wikispaces

We are going to take this one step further now to show how you can create a template page (as many as you like) and add it to each project. This could be the project instructions, the rubric or whatever you choose! Here is the Slideshare with all the details:
Set up a project in Wikispaces using a template

I can really recommend that you give this a try. Global projects are on the increase and Wikispaces is an excellent platform to use. 
View more presentations from Fiona Beal

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Yay, 7000 blog visitors!


logo maker - http://www.sparklee.com

First TeachMeet in KZN held at St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls


Submitted by Fiona Beal
Quite a number of TeachMeets have taken place around South Africa recently. I have been privileged to attend two in the last month in person and one virtually! Just a reminder about what TeachMeets are again– they are informal free gatherings where the teacher attendees are the presenters in matters concerning technology-integration in the classroom, and the focus is on the needs and wants of those attending. They are normally directed 100% to those attending, and teachers come away excited and stimulated with new ideas. The presentations at TeachMeets are usually 3 minutes in length and whatever is shared is usually made available to the attendees. At TeachMeets we talk about ‘enthusiastic lurkers’ (attendees) and ‘keen beans’ (presenters).



The first ever Kwazulu-Natal TeachMeet was held at St Mary’s DSG School in Kloof on 29 May at 18:00 and was organised by Linda Locke and Sheryl Gordon from St Mary as well as Anne Maw from Crawford Preparatory, North Coast. Microsoft sponsored free learning Suite DVDs, and other items to all the attendees and Obami sponsored a R5000 training voucher for all the staff at the winning school in their product. 

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When you drive through the gates of St Mary’s you are immediately awestruck by the views. The school is at the top of a rise with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside all around. The TeachMeet was held in their beautiful ‘Creativity Centre’ where each Grade spends a day every couple of weeks being exposed to all sorts of creative tasks.  There were about 40 teachers from around Durban and we all sat in groups around tables with three screens in front of us. One was for the Twitter backchannel, one was for the presentations from a PC and one was for the iPad presentations. I rather liked the way the types of presentations were mixed – some from iPads and some from PCs.

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This was our table deep in dicsussion


It was great connecting with old friends again.

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Charli Wiggil from Durban, and Deb Avery from Pietermaritzburg


While one of the presenters was getting ready, Jonathon Manley, the principal of St Mary’s, showed us how one can easily switch to taking over the data projector screen and presenting from an iPad from wherever you are by means of a little gadget called an Apple TV.

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Presentations

There were 15 presenters, or should I say 'Kean Beans' and I am sure you would be interested to hear what they spoke about. 



Margie Hartmann gave a presentation on how she uses Scoopit (http://www.scoop.it/) which  scoops the web on the topic of your interest and creates a gorgeous online magazine with the topics you ‘curate’. You can follow Margie’s Scoop.it on this link: http://www.scoop.it/t/bee-bot-lessons-and-ideas

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Anne Maw demonstrated how she uses Microsoft’s Songsmith in the classroom. This is a free karaoke programme that picks up your voice and backs it. It is great for educational use. It is available on Microsoft’s learning Suite CD and is also free to teachers who join the Partners in Learning network http://www.pil-network.com/

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Sheryl Gordon (left) and Anne Maw (right) tweetpic photo
Jean Viary spoke about websites for teaching Internet rules and netiquette to Grade 4's and 5's.  “I use much more severe tactics with the Grade 6's and 7's using true videos from you tube about cyber bullying”.
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/games/privacy_playground/ http://learninglab.org/life_skills/cyberbullying/



Charli Wiggill demonstrated how his class went about creating their project making tape aids for the blind using cell phones. (They made MP3 Aids for the Blind from  in teams of two with cellphones.)  His project wiki can be viewed at http://pay-it-forward-for-the-blind.wikispaces.com/. Charli was a winner in the recent PIL Forum competition with this project.  As Jonathon Manley commented on Twitter ‘Cellphones in the hands of children and a visionary teacher influences a blind world. Outstanding!” This project is now operating in 10 countries.


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Helen Lass who lectures at a local Teachers’ Training College spoke on the neo-millennial brain of the adolescent and how to access it. This was a very inspiring talk. She said, “Up until the age of 23, learners and students have not developed a fully functioning pre-frontal cortex. As a result, I use videos to facilitate understanding and provide for brainstorming and application of theoretical knowledge”.  Helen encouraged us to read the work of Cathy Nuny http://www://brains.org

Jonathon Manley, principal at St Mary. showed how easy it is to do video splicing using the VLC media player http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html. He showed how to use VLC for recording clips and then add voiceover. You  can also play videos and then record parts or even take screenshots.  He said it is very easy to use.




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Betsy Kee showed how she uses SMART Notebook to introduce puberty lessons.


Jo Kinsey demonstrated her use of CAM studio to create podcasts of Maths lessons http://camstudio.org/

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Des Dunstone illustrated how she uses the Book Creator App on the iPad with her junior classes to create beautiful books. The learners choose the shape, insert text and add page colour. Photos must already be uploaded in the camera roll. It looks so easy to use. These can then be published to iBooks.

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Lindy van der Meulen showed how she uses the Inkling App on the iPad for sourcing interactive textbooks for her music lessons. The Inkling site also has the most incredible selection of books relating to other subjects in the curriculum. These can be downloaded with video and sound embedded. There is a small cost involved but also a lot of freeware.


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Sally Goldman illustrated her use of Obami as a classroom learning management system in her Maths classes. http://www.beta.obami.com/. Sally sets Maths problems and the students comment and try to solve them. She also talked about Brainpop: short educational videos that can be used to introduce concepts in all subjects. They have some free videos and "focus for the day" clips. www.brainpop.com (American) or www.brainpop.co.uk (Incidentally, one fortunate teacher ‘lurker’, Tanya, won a voucher from Obami valued at R5000 for all the staff at her school to be trained in its use).


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Michelle de Beer demonstrated her use of Symbaloo which is a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) to visually organize and share the best of the web with students. http://www.symbaloo.com/. This looks great for bookmarking sites using categories and it is accessible anywhere. It is very visual and seems easy to use.


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Fiona Beal showed how Classroom Dojo can be used as a motivational tool in the classroom. http://www.classdojo.com/

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Hayley Calverley showed how she uses a Galaxy Tablet in the classroom as well as Wizteach: WizTeach is interactive teaching software designed for use with any interactive whiteboard, any interactive projector and any touch screen hardware over a wide range of subject areas. http://www.wizteach.com/

Sue Ausmeier spoke about the amazing TES website www.tes.co.uk. You register for free to be able to access incredible resources. It is great for downloading PowerPoints e.g. on the Olympics and customising them. Sue showed us how she did this with the ‘Who wants to be a millionaire” game (PowerPoint) from The TES website.


Twitterstream


What I loved about the twitter stream that evening was that TeachMeeters from Cape Town were following the Twitterstream and they kept popping in and adding their greetings and comments. Arthur Preston, a principal from Cape Town who is the originator of the #edchatsa tweetchat amongst South African teachers on a Monday night from 8:30-9:30 invited the KZN teachers to join the chat. Sheryl Gordon, one of the organisers, asked me  to explain this invitation to the group since I was from Cape Town! I do hope that many of them will join in the conversation  on a Monday night. 


All too soon the TeachMeet was over. All the people at my table loved the evening.  Melanie Whillier’s comment on Twitter summed it all up “What a fantastic experience, my first teach meet. Learnt so much and came away feeling so inspired.” The organisers assured everyone that they would be organising another TeachMeet in the third term.