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!