Archive for September, 2009

Headline act


The End.

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howstuffworksYay! Wish I knew about these sites today when I was working with a teacher desperately searching for information on electrical circuits. Once again, Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day points me to interesting, new web tools.

Here are a few I could have used today….

  • How Stuff Works
  • YouTubeEDU – I use YouTube a fair bit but wasn’t aware of EDU version
  • Instructables – this was very helpful!
  • eHow – there is an education section  – laughed at the article about how to deal with a mean teacher!
  • WikiHow – wow! There’s a wiki for just about everything!!

But my favourite suggestion from Jane was the Best London Underground Tube map. For those of you who are familiar with the Tube map in London – I dare you not have a belly laugh at this version!! Go take a peek!

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Worth a look!

JC Canal 2 014I am always surprised at how quickly time flies when I am just browsing the web. I have drifted away from viewing some of the blogs I use to regularly visit, and instead I have had fun searching out some new blogs.

Here’s a peek at what I found or re-visited today.


I love photography so I regularly visit Sydney Eye (photo above) which is just brillliant! Julie takes stunning photos in and around her neighbourhood of Glebe, Sydney and posts them daily on her blog.

Creative Cloud is a blog with gorgeous photos and artwork. I discovered it today based on a recommendation from Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day. I had great fun checking out all the links like this poster about the internet. A true visual feast that portrays sobering social messages as well as those that are just plain fun!

From this blog I stumbled across Wikimedia commons.  Yet another wiki tool, this site has some really lovely photos and media files in any number of categories.

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Viewed this YouTube clip in a meeting today with my colleagues from CAtholic education in NSW. We were discussing the possibilities of harnessing Web 2 for our roles in supporting schools. We shared our experiences so far – pretty diverse from “newbies” to “techies”. I think I am in the middle somewhere!

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It takes an experienced ESL teacher like Paul Dufficy to exemplify what good, challenging learning looks like. In any context. So to the presenters of 21st Century learning last Friday….take note!!!!

cline taskPaul, who is also a lecturer at Sydney University in ESL, had our large audience of K-12 ESL teachers totally engrossed in learning. He shared his knowledge about rich, challenging learning tasks for ESL learners and provided some stimulating collaborative learning tasks for us to engage with. The substantive conversation that the teachers generated with each other, as a result of these tasks, was brilliant!

Paul re-visited the notion of frontloading prior to engaging students in reading texts. Tasks that engage students in talking about the “big ideas” of a text before they read it. In essence, building the field but making it quite challenging.

Teachers were making links to their own context, critiquing the tasks and suggesting modifications that would work with their students, deconstructing how the task supports language learning and…………they were having FUN doing this!

Like Paul said, well-structured learning can be more powerful if it is fun!

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Web_2BEST: Joining Ben’s VoiceThread conversation. Brilliant stuff! See my posts below.

WORST: Incredibly disappointing seminar on Friday about 21st Century learning. Needless to say it was more about product placement (Telstra, Microsoft etc) than elaborating on 21st Century learning. What a sham! At least I got something out of the Twitter conversations! Perhaps they should have invited Ben and his Kindergarten classmates from Regents Park in Sydney to show them 21st Century learning in action!!!

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02062009(006)An update on my earlier post about Is a giraffe taller than a whale?

Check out some of the conversation Ben and his classmates had..

6 m that’s not big. The dinosaur is the biggest it has 40m.
The giraffe isnt tall at all!

But the dinosaur is not bigger because the whale is 150 tonnes and the dinosaur is 80 tonnes.

oh yeah and then giraffe is really small because its only  2 tonnes

503606552_c5e71096b2_mIn response to how big a metre is, they had this to say…..

Well i’m 130cm

Yeah, and a meter has 100cm

So i’m 1m and 30cm

The next decision the students had to make was how to measure a metre. They had some good ideas….

You can find it with a tape measure or string

We think this much is a meter up to my eyebrows.

We think this much is a meter.
But we can really know if we do it with measuring things.

02062009(010)How’s that for thinking!! It didn’t stop there. More children became involved in a discussion on how to represent the information they found. In particular, how best to build a real-life model of an adult giraffe!

That’s for another post.

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Tweet! Tweet!

Finally I get the point about Twitter!

twitter_logo_headerAt a conference on 21st century learning today, the only thing that kept me interested in the discussion was the Twitter conversation. Great to hear what other people were thinking in response to the rather DULL speakers. For a seminar on 21st Century learning, they were incredibly OLD HAT in presenting their views – none of which were new or enlightening.

Where are the educators in this? None of the morning speakers were from an educational background. Rather they were from private enterprise who would have very particualar agendas about technology in education. Think Microsoft, Adobe, Telstra…….oh, do I need a strong coffee NOW!!!!

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3202569865_d274af700e_mThat’s the question Ben posed during investigation time in Kindergarten at St Peter Chanel, Regents Park. How do I know that? He invited me to join his VoiceThread. So I did! What a ride!!!!!!

Ben, with the help of his teacher, Nicole, documented his investigation through photos, audio files and typed text, on VoiceThread. I was mesmerized by the thinking, the journey of discovery and the level of engagement in learning that Ben and his classmates revealed. Simply gobsmacking!!

One of Ben’s classmates, who is new to English, suggested that he may need to re-state his “Big Question”, because whales

swim sideways……so  they can’t be tall…… you have to measure the horizontal and the verical of the whale and the giraffe….

I kid you not.

Another classmate joined in by asking just how tall is a giraffe? Ben had already found out that they can be as tall as 6 metres but a baby giraffe can be 2 metres.

You can guess what the next question was.

How tall is a metre?

Nicole scaffolded the children through questioning, so that they could find a way to investigate how tall a metre is!!

One classmate suggested that as he was 130 cm, then 7 metres is pretty tall. He worked out that he was a bit taller than 1 metre. This helped some other children re-think the concept of a metre. A suggestion was put forward to measure using 1cm cubes……and so the measuring quest began!

Nicole has created a safe environment for the children to take risks and be courageous in their learning. She is highly responsive to the children’s interests and listens intently to their conversations. This  provides her with great insight into their thinking and understanding of ideas and concepts.

Due to her own risk-taking with the use of technology to enhance learning, Nicole’s students are totally confident in using technology – they create their own videos via a laptop webcam, take photos of their work, annotate their photos………I could go on. By the way, many of these students do NOT have access to computers or the internet at home. They learn fast!

But it isn’t the technology that excites me as much as the deep learning that reveals just how much these students are thinking about their world. But I have to say, I only found out about Ben’s question and the subsequent investigation, via technology. I still haven’t been able to find a time to visit lately.

So, technology can be a BIG help!

(I will try to upload some photos of Ben’s investiagtion in the next post.)

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243515309_bf655c2dea_mI hope you caught the tone of outrage in my “voice” from the heading of this post.

Imagine me this morning, flicking through the Sydney Morning Herald over breakfast ( almost speed reading, in fact!!), when I came upon this glorious quote from an economist about her ADVICE FOR BILINGUAL EDUCATION for remote indigenous students in the Northern territory of Australia.Yes. An economist. Why not ask Koko-the-clown?! Anyway, here’s what she had to say…..(deep breath)..

It is absolute nonsense they don’t have enough time to spend on their own language,” she said. ”Aborigines, like other Australians, have to speak fluent English, and the way to do that is to start very early.

I beg your pardon!!??

Are you telling me that  the extensive research in the area of bilingual education and second language acquisition, has got it wrong?

Are you saying that research findings such as the role of the mother tongue in supporting the acquisition of a second language – in this case, English – is NOT important?

Or are you saying that the importance of validating your cultural identity and values through the use of your mother tongue – in this case, a specific indigenous language – is NOT important in learning English?

Thanks to research by people such as Prof. Jim Cummins, Pauline Gibbons, Thomas and Collier and others, we know that

  • the more proficient a person is in their first language, the easier it will be to acquire a second language as they have, among other factors, a knowledge of how language works
  • use of a first language is vital if cognitive development is to continue until the student is  proficient enough in the academic language of the second language
  • a curriculum that not only reflects but is proactive in INCLUDING the cultural diversity of students is a more effective tool for learning – in this case the indigenous language and indigenous community as partners in education.

Boy, has this lady got it wrong. Sadly, so has the government.

Did they know it was Indigenous Literacy Day last week? Maybe they should have done their homework on how English is acquired as an additional language.

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