Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

We made a movie! Part One.

Back in April the 100 years since the launch and sinking of the Titanic was commemmorated.  The news media, social media and popular culture was saturated with all things Titanic.  And my students came back to school in the second term full of enthusiasm for all things Titanic.

They wanted to do a play about the Titanic.

They wanted to build a Titanic.

I said:  Sure you can write a play and build a Titanic.  But you can use the time before and after school, in breaks and when you have finished all your other work.  I've already got a full term of work planned out.

They did a great job of building the Titanic.  One of the dads went to town and got a big fridge box from an appliance store and helped the kids shape it.  That child then brought his drill to school to make holes in it.  I gave them straws, bottle tops, medicine bottles, skewers, wool, tubes, lots of hot glue gun plugs..... and they made a Titanic.

The writing of the play however was not so flash.  It started with a hiss and a roar.  But when I finally looked at it, it had three scenes each with two lines of dialogue.  I could see we were going to need some work on this.

Term 3 went by in a flash, and then I went to ULearn12 with an idea about how we were going to do the Titanic as a movie instead.  I went to see great keynotes and breakouts with Jason Ohler and Kevin Honeycutt who gave me the following great inspirations:
  • getting the kids to record their ideas on video.
  • fake it till you make it.
  • collaborative writing, sharing that writing, reworking that writing.
  • do it even if the budget is zero.
  • don't wait till conditions are perfect, just do it.
  • you'll never be great at something unless you have a go at doing it.
  • make your students famous.
For more specifics about what Jason Ohler and Kevin Honeycutt said and inspired, see the blogs about them I did after ULearn12.

I have to say I was also somewhat inspired by the Manaiakalani Cluster and their annual movie awards too.  The Two Helens (see another blog from after ULearn12) talked with passion about the learning their students got from making their movies.

So I came back to school in early Term 4 and went to the ALL meeting (Accellerated Literacy) and said my class would be writing a script for a movie and making a movie.  They looked at me like I was mad.  Time was to prove them right, but we have made a movie.

Look out for further installments of our movie making journey and eat your heart out James Cameron!!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Walking Poetry - follow up from Camp

This piece of poetry was inspired by the Karangahake Gorge - the Tunnel and Windows Walk.  My poem (pictured below) is written slightly different from the model, because (if you have read my earlier blogs) I didn't do the walk.  We've also added in some extra parts because I wanted my students to use all their senses in this poem.

In the childrens' camp books we did a mind map using our senses to explain the Windows Walk.  We filled out this mind map the evening of the day we went on the walk in the Karangahake Gorge.  Back at school, the children photocopied their mind maps from their camp books and glued them into their draft writing books.  Above right, you can see the mind map I did in my camp book that I photocopied and put in the modelling book.  As we began to write the poems, I encouraged the children to look at the photos from the walk to help them add to their mindmaps if they were a bit sparse.

In my wonderful book on poetry there is a poetry model called Walking Poetry (see the photo, above left, of the model photocopied into the modelling book).  And this married very nicely with what I wanted to get the children writing.


As you can see I modelled writing the poem in the modelling book.  You can see that I have highlighted parts of the text in my draft and that often corresponds with text I've highlighted in my mind map and model.  I did this so I could specifically highlight nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs as I taught and we wrote, to enable the use of strong verbs and descriptive language.  You can see that I demonstrated rewriting if I wasn't happy with what I had written.  There are places where I have changed my mind about the word I'd used.  You can also see where I was stumped for a rhyming word, so I have brainstormed a list of words that rhyme and then decided on the best fit for the poem.  These skills were explicitly taught as I had students who struggled with writing.

I wrote my WALT and HWIK based on the model glued into the modelling book above, but as you can see I've tried to tell the students more explicitly what I expect in their poems from the picture below.

The origninal poem we modelled from only has three verses, but as I said above, I wanted my students to use all their senses in this poem.  Consequently we added in two more senses.  I also really wanted them to convey to the reader the mood/feeling/atmosphere of the Windows Walk.  And we strongly focused on adjectives and adverbs as these really help to describe the senses and atmosphere for the reader.

When it came to publishing the poems I asked the students to choose colours and a border that reflected the place and time the poem was about; consequently they have used muted blues and greens as it was a bush setting and the day was drizzly.  The pictures in the background were taken on the walk and we published it in Publisher, put the picture at the back and washed it out to get a watery feel.  Putting the title down the side was effective use of space.  We learnt a variety of new ICT skills in Publisher to achieve some of these effects - putting picture to back, using the washed out tool in picture format, using WordArt titles. The poems were trimmed around the border and mounted on a pale green or pale blue A4 coloure paper, and the finished display has a patchwork effect.



ActivClassroom: Actively engaging students in a modern learning environment

The last breakout I went to at ULearn12 was the ActivBoard one.  My class has had a SmartBoard since the beginning of Term 4 2011, but there was no SmartBoard presentation at ULearn12, so I decided to go to the ActivBoard one because I figured somethings just cross credit!!
This breakout was led by Rachel Clapp.  You can follow ActivBoard on Twitter at @ACTIVboardNZ which tweets updates and ideas.
Rachel began with the classic You Tube Clip Did You Know which has been updated for 2012.  It is a great thought provoker and gets discussion moving.
Then Rachel talked about Flip Charts.  To know how to make a Flip Chart go to this You Tube clip.  Rachel showed us a Flip Chart called Rugby World Cup.  It uses a reveal tool so kids can check the answers.

Top Tip:  Download flipcharts from Promethean Planet for free:  http://www.prometheanplanet.com/en-us/.  Some top contributers to look for are:
  • Barb Knapp  NE-Y4 - maths resources you'll want to steal
  • Pat Verhoeven  Y5-8 - maths resources

Rachel then introduced us to poet Kenn Nesbitt - he has great poetry for kids.  She recommended using his poem videos for sequencing.  She showed us how to change the colours of words to highlight verbs, adjectives, etc.  My class loved his poems when I introduced them.  They really appeal to kids and have lovely twists.  We did our own podcasts and created PhotoStorys to go with the poems.

Build Your Wild Self - this lets you make a new character and you have a choice of body, hair, eyes, mouth, clothes, headgear and more - this is a great starter for descriptive writing.  Before the children start their writing they can use the recorder in the ActivBoard to tell their story.

Thinkers Keys flipchart, created by Rachel, is a fun flipchart filled with activities based on the thinker's keys (Tony Ryan). Great for before school thinking and when children have finished their work. Suitable for whole class and small groups. These activities promote thinking, creativity and imagination. - this can also be download from Promethean Planet.

Question Keys - put up a picture - get kids to write five questions with that picture as the answer.

There are heaps of ready made Brainteasers on Promethean Planet readymade.  Search for Catherine Iler as she has many available to download on the website.

Rachel talked about enhancing ceativity
- use the screen recorder
- put on wiki and YouTube
- recording strategies and assessment of children's thinking
She recommended Bevan James from St Marys Rotorua as a great example of the above.

Science on Promethean Planet:
  • National Geographic
  • Horrible Science - have to pay for (Scholastic) but well worth it, all pages have notes, cost $2NZ.

Magic Reveal really is something I must use more!!!  Click here to go to a You Tube tutorial on how to use and create Magic Reveal.

There are resources specifically for New Zealand teachers for the ActivBoard at http://activboardnz.com/education/for-teachers/resource-packs/ including Te Reo Maori and Samoan language resources from ActivBoardNZ to download.  Other useful resources include Hectors World for cyber safety, Life Education resources, road safety, water safety, food safety, Sun Smart and Hiwi the Kiwi's fishing sustainability message - all destinctively Kiwi!!

Rachel demonstrated how to add music to the page.  She used a body and attached the music to different body parts, so then you can "pull out" the name of a body part and kids have to move it to it.

Top Tip:  Go to the 'most downloaded' on Promethean Planet and see who else you can stalk and get new resources weekly.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Linda Lehrke - Tinkering with the Possibilities

To be honest, I went into this break out for two reasons:
1.  I met Linda last year at ULearn11 and she was telling me about how excited she was to be starting in a brand new school starting from scratch in in 2012 and because she has been heavily involved in e-learning.
2.  I was hoping to get some great tips about i-Pads/tablet use in class.
Please excuse that fact that most of the following is in note form.  It is the highlights.  However, I was somewhat distracted by my troublesome TELA laptop, an HP EliteBook 8560p, which decided to play its silly games during Linda's session.
Linda opened with this memorable gem below:
We are in education - we are not a business!
We are in the business of sharing knowledge - not keeping it to ourselves!

Linda urged us to look at the keynote speakers - find their five favourite books - read those books - then be like them.

Teaching and learning today is...

  • Knowledge Generation
  • Student Centric
  • Ad Hoc - can be shared around, moved through the school
  • Creative
  • Open
  • Opportunity of Ownership

Rcommended Book:  Now You See it  by Cathy Davidson about attention blindness

BYOD - solves a budget problem for the school
But how do we change our practice and environment to accommodate the kid's needs?
Is your school ready for 1:1 with its wireless?
What about how you spend the school's money?

You can buy five e-readers for one tablet.  You can use one account for the five e-readers.

Get the best server for your school for the job.

Schools with their server in the Cloud can access it even if the school is destroyed by a natural disaster.

Teachers are taking three devices in schools - laptop, phone and tablet.
Kids in a BYOD school have three devices.
Kids in a no BYOD school have at least one device - but you're forcing them onto 3G where there are no filters or protections.

Look in your classroom at what devices you have got?  Desktops are cheaper than a laptop, and iPads are cheaper than a desktop.

Everything is HDMI (hi def).  Get a cable.

Wireless keyboards always need the batteries changing.  Teachers will use it as an excuse not to use it.  For those teachers, keep the wired one in.

Have three focal points in the room.

Touch screen tvs - interactive.
Apple tv - plugs into iPads and laptops.

And then my HP EliteBook 8560p spat the dummy on me again, so I left Linda's workshop a little early and went to tell the nice people at HP exactly what I thought of their products.