Friday, November 27, 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas

There are only two weeks left until the end of the school year in New Zealand,

so it is time to start thinking about Christmas activities we could do with the students in our classes. Even though Christmas is during Summer we still adopt a lot of the Northern Hemisphere traditions and teach them in our classes. One noteable case last Christmas was showing the teacher of the bi-lingual Tongan unit how to make paper snowflakes online and offline!
The next few posts are going to concentrate on Christmas activities you can do in the classroom using computers.

Twelve Days of Christmas

This was a favourite activity I did with students every Christmas where we would
The ICT adaption of this would be to create their own books using either
  • PowerPoint (Younger children could have a template with most of the words typed and they would fill in the gaps, add pictures and themes to the pages)
Here is a download for the PowerPoint. Click on the Menu button and select Download Presentation. You will need to have a slideshare account.

  • older children could create theirs from scratch
  • draw the pictures in Kidpix, Paint or Artrage
  • students could draw or paint pictures, take photos of final products
  • or use online programmes to create drawings such as Sketchfu ( need to set up an account, click on Download to see image and screen capture or print); Odopod is more suitable for older students, drawings look like watercolours; Sumo is more suitable for older children as it has quite comprehensive tools; Artpad is a simplistic art tool suitable for all ages, take screen captures of finished art work
  • other programmes that could be used are PhotoStory 3 (Windows only), Moviemaker (Windows) or iMovie (Mac) Insert photos, record voices or add a music track to create movie.

Inspiration or Kidspiration could be used for the mindmapping of the ideas and publishing as well. Both Kidspiration and Inspiration can be hyperlinked to websites, Inspiration can also have movies embedded on the page.

ComicLife is also another easy way to publish students work. Use their drawings or photograph artwork and add it to the comic.(If you are using images from online don't forget to reference!)
If you don't have ComicLife then use the Autoshapes in Word

A simple but fun activity for all ages is building a picture in Kerpoof and adding text, you can search for graphics and make it as unusual as you like. Print it or screen capture it when finished.

Of course the ever popular Wordle should not be left out. Adding a Tilde ~ in between each word will allow phrases to appear. This is when children need to learn how to copy and paste as there is a lot of repetition going on.

    Different themes could be decided on. There are different schools of thought on the original meaning of the song. Here are some ideas for themes that could be used
    • characters and settings from a fairy tale or favourite book 
    • indigenous items from the child's country of origin
    • favourite sports (teams)
    • international themes such as Global Warming, Third World countries, Disasters
    • based on a Social Studies/Science topic studied that year
    • presents they would like for Christmas
    • presents they would like to give for Christmas
    • based on people in the school/classroom
    • based on a favourite movie (See the youtube movies below)
    • look through a current magazine or newspaper
    • write about noteable school or personal events
    How about a non-Christmas theme?
    There maybe some students in your class who do not celebrate Christmas so they could have a theme about the holidays. I saw a great book in a classroom a few days ago called 'The Twelve Days of Holidays'. This is written from the mother's perspective as she is increasingly getting 'fed up' with her children at home during the holidays. Students could write about
    • the holiday they are going to have
    • their best holiday
    • their worst holiday
    • their dream holiday
    • or from the perspective of a member of their family

    Other versions of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' that can be viewed that could motivate students are the following
    • this one is a slideshow with pictures (paintings) of each day

    • This next Youtube movie is a good example of how you can create your own Twelve days of Christmas on a particular theme, in this case on Disney stories.

    • This version will appeal to Shrek fans. This is a great theme to use picking out characters in the movie.

    • And if you want to see the lyrics have a look at this Youtube movie

    For more advanced ideas of presenting the twelve days of Christmas which could be embedded into Blogs and wikis...

    Wallwisher: Add posts to the wall, could be an individual wall or a collaborative wall

    For further instructions on how to use Wallwisher

    Glogster a poster yourself application enables you to embed graphics, movies and link to websites.

    Create an online book
    Mixbook has some great Christmassy templates. Students can publish their Twelve Days of Christmas in Mixbook and then embed into their wiki or blog (for free). They can also be purchased from $6.99 US and sent to you.

    There are a lot more online ways of presenting 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', for more ideas look at 

    Saturday, October 17, 2009

    Where the Wild Things are

    Where the Wild Things are is an old favourite book of mine and one that I have used with classes many times. The movie is due out on the 3 December 2009 (in NZ) which will renew interest in this old classic. A few years ago I developed some activities using the context of the book and integrated it into the maths we were doing at the time; tessellations and rotation. The skills students learned from working with shapes enabled them create their own Wild Things.

    Where the Wild Things are activities
    View more documents from Jacqui Sharp.

    Creating Wild Things from shapes Activity Four

    Build a Story: Activity Six

    A to Z of Wild Things: An example

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Editing Writing, Telescopic Text and Magnetic Writing

    Teachers want to know ways to engage students in editing their own writing. If you have a projector, whiteboard (or even better an IWB) try this.
    Start off with Joe Davis's site
    I ask students to describe what the tea could taste like, write some answers above the text, then click on the word 'tea'. New text will be inserted into the sentence.

    We carry on in this mode predicting, describing and analysing the new edited text until we can go no further.

    The next day we can look at this website which is based on Joe Davis's site
    Now we can add our own words by replacing the text that is already there by highlighting the word to be changed, click on Replace, type new word and then click on Submit changes.

    The third day can then be spent looking at Tripticos Word Magnet site.
    Type in a sentence. When you type in the full stop make sure there is a space between it and the last word.
    Click Next.

    In the next window you can choose from many different backgrounds but for my editing lesson I will keep to a blank page

    Click on Done and the next page will appear with your text broken up into text boxes. Click and drag them up to make a sentence.

    Now start adding new words by typing in the 'Add new magnet box', once you have clicked the + symbol, click on a colour to change the colour of your text box. Drag it into the correct place. Use the colour coding to identify adjectives, conjunctions etc.

    This is a great way to get students interested in editing their work and to see how a sentence can come alive. These are the type of activities that I like to use with children as part of my modelling and teaching.
    This will work well with just a projector and computer, but the Interactive Whiteboard would allow students to take over the manipulation of text and objects.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    47 Ways to publish Students' writing

    This is an update to a previous slideshow I had made on publishing students writing. This has more activities and explanations for teachers how to use in the classroom.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Print out in PowerPoint

    A teacher asked me today how could she print out all of the slides on a PowerPoint presentation on one page which then lead me to show her the different ways that are available to print.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Number Knowledge, Basic Facts and PowerPoint

    I was working with Jenny today at her school, and she was telling me that the problem she has with Number Knowledge is that children do not know their basic facts and this is throughout the school.
    She wanted to create flash cards quickly, so  I suggested making them in PowerPoint.
    Choose the Title Only slide from the Slide layout.
    Drag the title bar down so it is in the centre of the slide.
    Type in the number sentence, insert a square shape from AutoShapes (Shapes).
    Resize everything so it fits in the slide
    Click on the slide in the Slide Panel, press Ctrl D (Command D for Apple) to duplicate the slide.
    Change the numbers and box around, repeat once more until you have 3 slides.
    Shift click all 3 slides and then duplicate. Change all the numbers. Repeat this last step until all of the Flash cards have been made.
    When printing make sure you select the Handouts - Slides per page 6
    Cut out, write the answer on the back, laminate and bag the cards.

    The PowerPoints can be used as a computer activity as well. Duplicate each slide and type in the answer, resave as an activity. In Normal view, students click on the box and type in the answer or in Slideshow View they can use the pencil to draw the answer. The next slide will have the answer for them.

    Make a series of cards and games and organise them into
    • Doubles (to 10) (more than 10)
    • Bonds to 10 (creates 10 i.e. 7 +3, 6 +4),
    • Combinations up to 5, (a total less than or including 5)

    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    Inanimate Alice - Multimedia Fiction and Networked Novels

    Came across this site Inanimate Alice and I was overwhelmed with ideas of how to use this in a classroom situation. Inanimate Alice is an interactive multimedia story (known as Transmedia, storytelling across multi media platforms) that grows as the main character gets older. The story starts in a simplistic way and gradually increases in readability and game challenge levels. There are 10 levels, four that have been released so far with Episode 5 coming sometime before the end of the year. All these episodes can be viewed for free!

    What I liked about it was how it would appeal to visual learners and non-readers alike. Apart from reading, this is also a fantastic motivator for writing and publishing. I recently wrote a post about 'PowerPoints can be great' and this way of presenting a story lends itself (in simplistic terms for young children) as one that could be created in PowerPoint or Keynote because of the hyperlinking abilities. MovieMaker or iMovie could be used as well more so for the animated effects that could be added.

    Have a look at this wiki Digital Literacy -Inanimate Alice, (Pascoevale Primary School) there are some fantastic examples of episodes students have written using PowerPoint.

    Flight Paths by the same authors is a Networked Novel where readers can participate by adding fragments, ideas or chapters. Again, these stories would be great motivators for writing.

    iTeach Inanimate Alice

    Ways to use this in your classroom
    • create their own version of the story making themselves the main character
    • take one of the main characters of 'Inanimate Alice' and build a story around that character and their adventures
    • continue the story and create different chapters in different countries including details that pertain to the culture of that country
    • use special effects of photo editing software (Befunky, Fotoflexer, Lunapic, Picnik, Aviary) for the photos on their story
    • retell the story from another perspective
    Available as well is the software tool with an all time site license for $242 (NZ). This allows students to create stories in the same way as Inanimate Alice.
    Teachers can request the comprehensive Education Pack which has lesson plans and resource pack. There is also an Education pack available for the, an authoring tool.

    What is important to note here is that the Multimedia fiction story cannot exist without the writing; that is what makes it powerful. There are striking images coming at you, but the writing is what leads you on, to think, predict, question and wonder what is next.
    I believe that this genre of writing and reading is an important development in our literacy programme.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009

    PowerPoint Presentations can be great

    Given the choice of presenting digitally, PowerPoint is the most widely used presentation tool in classrooms. This is because a lot of teachers are not ready to let go of it and experiment with online media or free downloadable software. Consequently it is also a tool that it is used in limited ways
    • most of the time it is used as a Text and Picture slideshow with animations and sound effects
    • the presentation is more than likely linear
    • and it is a regurgitation of facts
    But PowerPoint presentations can be made exciting, informative and interesting just by deciding on the delivery of the information.
    The following slideshow can be used to demonstrate to students the different ways PowerPoint can be used present information.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009

    Walk the Talk: Day Two - Computer Lab

    Day Two:
    All classes came into the lab and sat at the computers. To remind them of the sequence of the programme I had written a list on the Activboard

    • Come in
    • Sit down
    • Log on
    • Open Server
    • Open Wikispaces page
    • Click on Sign in
    • Type in User name
    • Open Pages
    • Type six lines of Home Keys asdf jkl;
    • Choose a game from the Wikipage to play
    Once all students had finished typing home keys, I called them from their seats to the mat in front of the Activboard.
    We revisited the Writing and Publishing Online Rules. Next we looked at the Xtranormal slideshow I had made, this was also a reminder of what they need to do. This is also an example of one of the types of publishing they are going to be doing this term.

    For the rest of the session students worked on their Wordles and Copying/Pasting edited stories onto their wikipages.

    Some of the students have published wonderful Comic Life posters that have photos of children in them, but at the moment the school do not want to have the children’s photos online. So to publish them and protect anonymity we double click on each picture, click on the Details button and used one of the Filters to comicfy the pictures. .
    Do this for each photo and the effect is that that you can still make out what the figures are doing, but you can't make out the faces.

    One major teaching point this session was showing students how they could have multiple pages open on their browser.
    I noticed that when they needed to go to a new website they would type over the address of the page they were on.
    I demonstrated how they could press Command-T (Control-T) to open up a new page where they could type the address.
    I also needed to remind them that they do not need to type the whole address, (miss out the http://www).

    Routines have been set now, students now know how to respond when I need their attention 'Stop, look, listen' and they have already learned many new skills.
    Next week the teachers would like their students to publish some writing they have finished. The week after that I will be starting Argument writing.

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Walking the Talk: Day One 'Computer Lab'

    For the next nine weeks I am teaching one day a week in a school in South Auckland. I am working with 4 different Year 6 classes running lab sessions. I have started a Year 6 wiki for them and the main concentration is going to be on the children's writing and publishing.
    Day One
    Introduction of me and my expectations for the next nine weeks.
    What are the rules?

    Look at our Wikipage.

    Practice our typing.

    Play a Spelling game or Typing game.

    Find a Recount we have already typed into Pages.

    Make a Wordle of it. The students had to learn lots of skills for this activity, how to move between Pages and an Internet Page, keyboard shortcut keys such as Command-A to select all, Command-C to copy, Command-V to paste.
    They also had to learn how to do a screen capture to save to the desktop, Shift-Command-4. They took a screen capture of their Wordle and uploaded into their Wikipage,

    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    Bookmarks, Interactive Learning Centres and Delicious

    In past blog posts I have talked about Interactive Learning Centres and bookmarks in Delicious. Teachers have embraced this management method of directing students to certain websites. This is a great idea and works well as long as the links are directly linked to a specific activity that is supporting the teaching and learning.
    Ways to use Delicious
    • make it the home page on your class computers
    • make bundles of your reading groups and math groups (See page 7 of How create a Delicious Account)
    • directly link to the activity rather than the page that might have several links on it
    • send the link to your Delicious page home on your school or class newsletter
    • when Parents ask you what are suitable sites for their child to access, give them the Delicious link
    • when you start a new topic make sure that you have a tag or a bundle for it so that students can access these links at home
    • make a bundle that is specifically child friendly games (check them out to make sure they are not full of inappropriate advertising)
    • set student homework using Delicious Links
    • keep your bundles well organised and your tags clear
    • ensure that you have a Spelling bundle with spelling and grammatical tags (very useful when homework has not been set, but students can use these for practice at home and at school)
    I have been asked by some teachers whether they should just have a wiki and not Delicious. I suggest that you have both. The wiki is more current and should show the posts, games, activities, discussions that are happening at the moment. The Delicious page is more historic as it shows all the links you have covered in the year and is a great resource for children to use quickly and easily.

    Ways to use Interactive Learning Centres (ILC)
    • create pages that are group/curriculum specific (Reading or Math Groups names)
    • directly link to the activity rather than the page that might have several links on it
    • use PowerPoint or Keynote to create ILCs (later versions allow you save as PDF files which means you can play them on any machine irrespective of Platform or Version of software)
    • if you have special needs children create an ILC that is specific to their need and level
    • create teaching lessons using ILC, make them in PowerPoint and then copy or import into Interactive Whiteboard software. Hyperlink to the Internet or games and activities that you have made in PowerPoint, Word, Pages, Keynote, KidPix, Inspiration or Kidspiration
    The slideshow below is an example of how you could make a Maths ILC. One page shows games that are strand specific and two pages show 2 different Maths groups and the activities that they are doing related to what is being taught at the moment.

    Thursday, July 9, 2009

    Reading the Classics 'Paper versus Digital' Why not both?

    As a child I was and still am an avid reader. I had a Grandfather (hobbyist antique collector) who would fuel my literary interest by giving me 'old- antique' books that he found in his travels. I don't know what happened to most of them now but I still have a fully bound copy of 'The Girl's Own Annual' circa early 1900s chapters separated by the finest tissue paper. Included in this anthology was the typical girlie serial stories right to the helpful hints/advertisements of how to embroider your underwear!
    As a child I was desperate to read anything, and I'm not sure how I discovered them (probably through my mother who was a teacher) but I know that I read most of the classics before I was 13. I then discovered 19th Century Gothic literature and that consumed me through my early teens.
    When I was teaching full time, I liked to read to my students everyday. It was always a novel, and I particularly liked reading classic novels...but how can you do that in today's world where there is so many differences in our lives compared to one to two hundred years ago. Language is different, context and meaning of words have been changed; we have lost a lot of words and phrases that were used many years ago and they have been replaced with new words and expressions.
    We all know that a`movie' of a book is never the same as the book we have read. An experiment I tried out with some Year 3/4 (7 & 8 years old) students a few years ago was when there was a plethora of Disney movies re-released. Peter Pan was the one we focused on. The children and I found as many resources we could and we all gleefully consumed them. Then I started reading the original Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. They loved it and were totally surprised that the Disney 'Peter Pan' was based on this original story. I purchased and found several copies of the original book and as I read it to the class the students read along at the same time.

    Digital Medium
    Nowadays we have a new medium to reach children and encourage them to read the old classics. A lot of these books are available free online.

    Kids Corner has a wonderful collection of Beatrix Potter Stories with text which students can view or you can download the audio of it and play it through your computer or download onto an iPod (students can listen to the story while reading the printed copy at the same time).
    Scroll further down the main website page and there is audio downloads to Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, Charles Dickens, Grimm's Fairy Tales and Rudyard Kipling.

    Book Glutton has a comprehensive collection of all classic books, some of the children ones I have found are Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and many more.

    You can embed links to the books, read them online, make comments and chat about the booksA Europe of tales is an animated interactive site retelling the ancient myths and legends of their countries stories.

    Many Books is a site with free books to download as PDF, e-Reader or Kindle) some of the featured stories are Anne of Green Gables and The Wind in the Willows.
    Project Gutenberg is a source of many classic e-books that can be downloaded as webpages or PDFs, have a look at the Velveteen Rabbit, this could be used as a shared reading lesson using an interactive whiteboard or mimio. Use the highlighting tools and pens to find key ideas, note sequencing, answer questions etc.
    Page by Page books is a text based comprehensive list of classic books.
    Planet PDF
    Planet e-book these last two sites are where you can download PDF versions of classic books.
    PDF search is a comprehensive search engine for PDF files, search for a book title and find many versions of it.
    Feedbooks allows you to download to MP3 players, smartphones, iPods, PDAs and Kindles.

    Graphic Novels
    Graphic Novels are a great way to lead children into reading the classics and this site Classics Illustrated Comicbooks is one of my favourites. It has a great collection of classics that have been turned into comic books. One of the ways I would use this site is to read the classic novel alongside of each page of the comic, using the illustrations for prediction, clarification and for visual stimulation of what is happening in the story

    For older students here is a link to Shakespeare in comic form, download as a PDF

    Just Audiobooks
    Here are a list of sites where you can download Audiobooks to MP3 players or iPods.
    Loudlit is a website where you can download MP3 audiobooks or just listen online. If you don't want to download then plug in speakers into your computer
    Free Classic Audiobooks
    Candlelight stories have audiobooks, movies and storybooks

    Books that are not so classic are available as well at
    Sqooltube has video books of Dr Seuss, Berenstain Bears, Maurice Sendak amongst others

    iPod and iPhone Apps
    There are several 'Apps' that allow you to download to your iPod or phone classic books (i.e. Stanza and eReader)
    You can even download classic comics (do a search for Archie).

    You can download the entire Shakespeare's plays for free or the Sherlock Holmes collection for $1.29 NZ. For $2.59 you can get 400 fairy tales including Aesop, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm.

    iPod and iPhone Audiobooks
    There is a huge collection of Audiobooks available, a few free but there is a cost to most of them i.e.
    The Wind in the Willows is $14.95 but the voices are well known actors from when it was a radio production. The Ugly Duckling is $2.99, Little Women is $7.99. Be aware when you are buying Audiobooks whether you are buying the Abridged or the Unabridged. If you want the full copy purchase the Unabridged!

    Remember if you are downloading to an iPod or iPhone, you can use a Splitter (NZ $20) to include 5 headsets around the same iPod.

    All of these digital resources (plus the many thousands I haven't found yet) are available for you to use in your teaching programme. They may just stimulate those reluctant readers to read, and open up a new world to history for those who enjoy reading.
    Many of my happiest memories have been of when I read those classic stories and immersed myself in the history of the time. Share these with your students!

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    Keyboarding and Integration

    Most teachers tell me that they do not have enough time to teach keyboarding skills but there are ways around this...Integration!
    The best time for Keyboarding teaching is when you are doing other things! Have a couple of old keyboards handy or laminated printouts of keyboards. (Click on the picture below to see a larger view and print out.)
    As you are modeling writing talk Keyboarding at the same time. "Now we will put a full stop at the end of the sentence here. How do we make a full stop on a keyboard? Which finger do we use? Pass around the keyboard and show the person next to you how you make a full stop (or a capital letter, or a comma etc)."
    When you are using a computer keyboard with your Interactive whiteboard, talk about what you are doing. "I need to insert an awesome adjective before this word, so I click just before the word, I type my new word, and then I press the Space bar."
    Ask questions like "How many times do I press the space bar to make a space between words?" or "What is the quick way to delete a word?" or "What fingers do I use to press the Enter key and the backspace key?"

    Click on this plain keyboard, print out and photocopy. These could be placed in student's Handwriting or Spelling books
    Part of the Handwriting lesson each day could include a focus word. I have made some of these up in PowerPoint, a keyword to each slide (when I have a lot more I will upload a slideshare version of it)
    Students can practise that focus word on the photocopy of the keyboard after they have finished their handwriting.

    The other keyboard could be used to practise spelling words...'Type out your spelling list'.
    Always talk through what you are doing when you are keyboarding in front of children, don't just assume that they know!

    Friday, June 19, 2009

    Narrative writing: Teaching Model

    Here is an example of a Narrative teaching model I would use with students. This would be used everyday, focusing on a different part of the model whether it be structural or grammatical. Each day I would also look at an alternative example of publishing.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Computer Labs ' What can I do?'

    I had a teacher say to me that they wanted to make their lab lessons more interesting as they seemed to be doing the same thing every time. Lab lessons are a perfect time to extend into your classroom teaching! I asked her what subjects were they missing out on in the lab time and some days she does Topic and others Reading. I suggested to her that she uses the lab time as her teaching time, do what she would normally do in that time in the classroom but turn it digital. We looked at what she is doing for her topic which is Mammals. She has a Year 3 class so she wants to be able to guide them to suitable websites. I showed her how to create an Interactive Learning Centre in PowerPoint and pointed out how to make the visiting of the websites more meaningful with creating a purpose for going to them. At the same time, the students will be learning more keyboarding, internet and PowerPoint skills.
    Here is an example of a PowerPoint 'Mammals' Learning Centre. This can be downloaded and adapted for different year levels.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Recording Audiobooks as part of a guided reading lesson

    I was working with a wonderful young teacher at Willowbank school last week. She was recording the children's voices in Garageband while they read their book Aunty Mo's Kids by Jill Eggleton. They had recorded reading it in theatre style. Now they were adding sounds to it. While they were working together I came to a realisation and said to the teacher "Do you know what you are doing here? You have moved from the traditional teacher and students sitting on the mat guided reading lesson to the student centred, teacher facilitated using technology guided reading collaboration."
    This teacher had been using all the 'Guided Reading' steps of responding to and discussing text
    while the students were in front of the computer, reading their books, searching for words and sentences in context, recording voices and sounds, learning computer skills, collaborating together and creating an audiobook that they will be able to use in their classroom as an extra activity (with iPods) and share with other classes.
    As I said to her, "this is another way of teaching and engaging children in learning, that you do not have to teach always in the traditional style. Your activity could also become your teaching time with the children."

    As teachers we have to be brave and let go or adjust some of our traditional delivery methods to incorporate the use of technologies such as computers, cameras, iPods, IWB's, game consoles, or Flip videos. The children will be engaged, on task and learning, you as the teacher will see different aspects of your children as they become more animated and in control of their learning.

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    Creating Comics in Word

    I was working with a teacher today who said he was going to make comics in Word.

    To make it look more like a comic, upload your photos to Befunky and cartoonise them. Click on Get Started, click on Cartooniser, click on Browse files, select a photo, click Open, rotate or crop if necessary, click OK and your photo will appear. Click Save, name your photo and click Save to My desktop, click OK you may be asked to Save again. You may want to crop the white border of the photo

    I had previously already showed him how to insert Autoshapes onto a page, I usually insert six to a page. Then you click on a shape, go to the Fill can, choose Fill Effects, click on the Picture Tab, click on Choose Picture, select a photo and click Insert.

    Once the pictures are inserted then you need to add the speech bubbles and narrative text boxes. This is a wonderful way of publishing children's writing.

    You can also do the same thing in PowerPoint but put one photo on each slide and it becomes a Comic Slideshow.