Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Week 2 of our blogging course.

Thank you Fiona for your inspiring input into this course. Although I have used blogs in the past I am learning so much from participating with others.

I set this blog up for reflecting on my teaching practice. At this time of the year I have assessed all the learners and the symbols have been handed to the teachers. There are the usual interruptions to the routine for Nativity plays and practice for prize-giving. We perservere and I am using the time to consolidate some activities and the grade 3's are posting their final activities in Edmodo.

So what is Edmodo? It's a web2.0 mock facebook type social network for education. The administrator sets up an account for their school and adds groups according to groups/ classes/ clubs within the school. Each group has a code. Learners and other teachers sign up and register with a group according to the code. This make is relatively safe for learners to use and there is even a facility where their parents are assigned a code to access their child's home page.

The teacher can post assignments, polls and activities for learners to complete. They enjoy their own Facebook. I regard Edmodo as a tool for teaching online  netiquette and it's also a great place for our grade 2's and 3's to practice language skills such as sentence construction and punctuation in an engaging way.

I can see that in a "perfect"world Edmodo would be a wonderful tool for teachers and learners. They could post their work, interact with one another and engage in discussions. The perfect world I refer to is one where learners have access to a computer and a good Internet connection both at school and at home. We're not there yet so we rely on our hour a week lesson to play at learning about social media. The real advantage of this situation would be that teachers can access and assess learners work online - no more carrying heavy bags of books!

With regards to assessment, if one sets up an assignment learners complete it and click on a button that says, "Turn in assignment". The assignment are then stored together for the teacher to assess. One can set the range for marking.

One of our grade 2 classes participated briefly in a Global Classroom Project with learners from many other classes around the world. In a restricted and safe space the learners share information about the size of classes (at 33 in the class our's was by far the biggest), what they eat for lunch, how they travel to school etc. They are making global connections and communication using technology which are 21st Century skills.

I will certainly extend the use of Edmodo in the new year. It's a perfect place to set up a collaborative project on the Olympics and a wonderful way to share cultures.

Oh and another big advantage of Edmodo is that it can be used by groups from kindergarten right up to Grade 12 (and beyond). 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Week 1 - A fishy story

This week I've been using offline lesson options due to the fact that our virus protection at school has expired and there just aren't the necessary funds to renew it. We are exploring some options but in the meantime I am avoiding going online. It's been a great opportunity to do some fun activities.
I chose a template from the Computers 4 Kids library. This one is in Word and it starts with a simple fish shape using shape and line tools. The learners then learn to Insert Shapes and decorate their fish using colour and texture to transform it into a "fancy fish".

I really loved some of the designs they came up with and I am always amazed at how they become more creative when they share ideas amongst themselves. One idea leads to another.

This little guy was the only one who created a shadow below his fish. I thought it was quite effective and gave the whole picture more of a 3D effect.

This one was from one of the girls. Just look at the expression in that eye!
Playing around with shapes like this helps learners build their tech skills, encourages creativity and helps them become more intuitive when using applications in Office. They learned to find their way around the ribbons in Word and how to format shapes and page elements. Sometimes the fun lessons are the really simple ones.
If you are on Facebook you can view a few more pictures of our fish at Cotswold Preparatory School.