Primary Tech

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A New Blog Design for a New Year

As 2012 comes to an end it is timely to reflect on what a fabulous year it has been.

I’m also launching a new theme to mark the start of a new year. Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom is now called Primary Tech. The URL has not changed.

Some of my 2012 highlights include:

  • Blogging – educational blogging has continued to be a large part of my classroom in 2012. It has been encouraging to see my grade four students improve in so many ways through blogging and global collaboration. 99 posts were published on the 4KM and 4KJ blog during 2012. Over 4000 comments were received and we recorded 33,000 visits on our Clustrmap during the year. A blogging highlight was coming third for the Best Class Blog category in the worldwide Edublog Awards in December.
  • Having a wonderful PLN - my professional learning network is wide and diverse. Each person in my PLN helps me to become a better teacher. Every day I am reflecting, brainstorming, questioning and chatting with a really inspirational bunch of educators via Twitter, email, Skype or blogs. I couldn’t teach without you!

In 2013 I am looking forward to:

  • Going 1:1 – we are introducing a Grade Four Netbook Program into our school in 2013. Eventually, this will be a program for grades four to six. I’m excited by the possibilities of going 1:1 and look forward to again working with a dynamic team of teachers. If you have any suggestions to make about 1:1 curriculum, I would appreciate you commenting on this post.
  • Technify Your Teaching in 2013 PD – I have been writing Tech Tools for Teachers for three years. Each fortnight Simon Collier, Matt Limb and I produce a how-to guide for an online tool. For the third time, we are running a full day of hands-on professional learning at my school in Geelong. There are just a small number of spots still available. If you are interested in attending you can find out more here.
  • Exploring new technologies and pedagogies – with the introduction of the 1:1 program, I’m looking forward to using the technologies that are already common place in my classroom even more, while exploring new technologies with my students. I’m always getting new ideas from my PLN and love trying new things!

My blog and I are taking a break and I look forward to posting again after the new school year begins in late January.

Thank you for all your support this year!

What were your highlights of 2012?

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Technify Your Teaching in 2013: PD Opportunity

As well as this blog and my class blog, I write Tech Tools for Teachers. This is a collaborative effort with my colleagues, Matt Limb and Simon Collier. Each fortnight we review an online tool and provide step-by-step instructions on its use.

In January of this year we ran a professional development day called Technify Your Teaching in 2012. 

We are now organising Technify Your Teaching in 2013. This one day PD will be held on Thursday 24th January at Leopold Primary School near Geelong in Victoria.

Kelly Jordan and I will be running sessions on educational blogging, while Matt and Simon will be conducting workshops on Google tools, YouTube, Evernote, iDevices and web 2.0 tools.

If you are interested in signing up for the PD or finding out more, visit the TeachinGeneratioNow blog.

 There are limited places so get in quickly if you’d like to attend!

Kids and Online Tools: The Legal Side

There are so many free online tools out there that are fabulous to use in the classroom. These tools can potentially allow your students to create, collaborate, communicate and express themselves in a multitude of ways.

To find recommendations of tried and tested online tools to use in the classroom with step-by-step instructions, visit my other website Tech Tools for Teachers. 

While the legal stuff can seem boring, it’s important to be aware that children cannot sign up for many online tools, even many of those that seem designed for education.

Websites based in the US are required to comply with Federal Trade Commission ( FTC ) Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  This act restricts the collecting information from children under the age of thirteen.

If you look in the terms and conditions of many tools, you will find that children under 13 are not allowed to create an account.

Some tools, such as PhotoPeach, state that “Persons under 13 years of age are required to have a parent or guardian review and complete the registration process.”

According to this article, there is currently a proposal in place to broaden the limitations in the COPPA act.

Australia has similar rules to COPPA and if you are working in a Victorian DEECD school, the same rules about signing up for 13+ websites apply. Find out more about DEECD’s social media policies here.

Ways I have gotten around these limitations with under 13s

  • Create a teacher account and work with the children.
  • Have students sign up at home with their parents when the tools allows this (eg. PhotoPeach).
  • Use tools that don’t require a sign up (eg. Tagxedo).
  • Use tools that allow teachers to create student accounts (eg. Storybird).

What this means for you

  • Be mindful that if an online tool requires users to sign up then there is probably a 13+ rule in place.
  • Check out the “terms and conditions” on the website to be sure. These can usually be found right down the bottom or up the top of a website.

I am certainly no expert on this topic. Please leave a comment if you have any further knowledge or advice.

What other tools have you used that don’t require sign up or allow the creation of student accounts?

Tech Tools for Teachers is Back!

ABOUT TECH TOOLS FOR TEACHERS

Simon Collier and I began a free e-newsletter for educators called Tech Tools for Teachers in January 2010.

Each edition of the e-newsletter highlights an online tool or site that can be used in the classroom and provides step-by-step instructions on how to use it.

Tech Tools for Teachers is suitable for both primary and secondary teachers and we provide practical examples of how the tool or website could be integrated into the curriculum.

The purpose of Tech Tools for Teachers is to publicise and promote the use of ICT tools and web links to staff who are not regularly sourcing the available information on the net.  This in turn, increasing the use of the wonderful educational tools available online.

THE WEBSITE – TEACHING GENERATION NOW

This year we are making Tech Tools for Teachers bigger and better.

Matt Limb has joined Simon and me, and together we are Teaching Generation Now.

Today we launched our website

www.teachgennow.com.au

Tech Tools for Teachers - Teaching Generation Now

TECH TOOLS FOR TEACHERS e-NEWSLETTER IN 2011

We are continuing the Tech Tools for Teachers emails this year, but this time, due to popular demand, they will come out fortnightly rather than weekly.

Our format has changed slightly. You will still receive emails from Tech Tools for Teachers, with easy to understand, tried and tested technology ideas for your classroom. The bit that has changed is that these emails will be linked to our website where you will find the most recent Tech Tool in full detail, to help you out step by step. You can also browse an Archive of 2010 Newsletters at your leisure.

Of course, Tech Tools for Teachers is completely free and we encourage all educators to sign up. New subscribers can enter their email address on the right hand side of our website.

sign up

FOLLOW US ONLINE

Twitter

@techgennow

Facebook

Teaching GenerationNow

Email

techtoolsforteachers email

Stay tuned and spread the word! It is going to be an exciting year as we strive the meet the needs of this generation.

What ideas do you have for future Tech Tools for Teachers newsletters?

Holidays are Here!

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Thank you to all my readers for you support throughout the year.

2010 has seen over EIGHTY posts on this blog!

*****

I have also collaborated on THIRTY Tech Tools for Teachers email newsletters with Simon Collier.

These free weekly e-newsletters for teachers offer instruction on ICT tools and sites that can be used in the classroom.

If you have some spare time over the holidays, why not check out the newsletters which are all in PDF format on this page of my blog.

We plan to continue with Tech Tools for Teachers in 2011, so if you haven’t signed up – here is the link to do so.

*****

Have a safe, happy and relaxing Christmas period and look our for more posts in the new year!

What was your highlight of the 2010 year?

Learn It In 5: Instructional Videos

Last week’s Tech Tools for Teachers was about the site Learn It In 5.

Click here to read the newsletter.

Learn it in 5 is a powerful library of how-to videos, produced by technology teachers, for the purpose of helping teachers and students create classroom strategies for today’s 21st century’s digital classroom. These step-by-step how-to videos walk teachers through Web 2.0 technology, demonstrating how to use Web 2.0 applications like blogs, social networks, podcasts, interactive videos, wikis, slidesharing and much more.”

This is an example of a Learn it in 5 video about Wordle. As you’ll see, they give a step-by-step explanation of using Wordle in the classroom in less than five minutes.

These videos could be great for your own self-paced PD or could be shown to a staff as a quick ICT PD.

There are videos on all sorts of topics such as Google Docs, Animoto, Diigo Groups, Google Reader, Wallwisher and more. Click here to check out the full list of videos.

Could these videos be useful to you or your staff?

Do  you know of any other sites like this?

Tech Tools for Teachers #22 PrimaryPad

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on an email newsletter for teachers called Tech Tools for Teachers. Click here to find an archive of past newsletters and to subscribe.

This week we review the site PrimaryPad

http://primarypad.com/

PrimaryPad  is a tool that allows students and teachers to collaborate on a word-processor style document. Despite the name, PrimaryPad could be used with both primary and secondary students.

primarypad

We like PrimaryPad because it:
* is free.
* doesn’t require users to sign up or log-in.
* is very easy to use. You can create a page in seconds.
* has a wide range of uses for all ages and curriculum areas.
* allows for collaboration across the class or globe.
* is secure – only people with the unique URL can enter a room.
* is ad-free.
* provides an authentic opportunities to discuss netiquette and cyber safety issues.

An example of how I used PrimaryPad in my Grade Two Classroom
Last week, I used PrimaryPad with a small group of students each day.
I wanted to use this tool, not only for the powerful collaboration opportunities it offers but to create an authentic opportunity to introduce my students to chat rooms and netiquette in a controlled environment.
For the task, there were six members of the room (including myself) each on individual computers. We first started by having a general online chat to get the students familiar with the tool. I had my students focus on
reading others’ messages, responding appropriately and remaining on-topic and polite.
With the first group, the chat led to a discussion of the school Festa that was held on the weekend and the group decided to use the collaborative space to create a top 10 list of the best aspects of the Festa. The chat feature of the tool was used to decide on what to put on the list.
The students got so much out of this session. Afterwards, we were able to reflect on how the students did with reading and responding to messages and we had a rich discussion about netiquette (ie. CAPTIALS means shouting, the importance of taking turns etc).

Other examples of how PrimaryPad could be used (note some ideas from http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/primarypad.htm)

* Import a document and students edit it collaboratively.
* Students write a story, movie/book review, essay or other text in small groups.
* Brainstorming in groups what students know about a new topic.
* Import an opinion piece and have students use the chat function to debate the topic.
* Make a chain story. One class starts a story, another class continues it and so on.
* At the end of a unit of work, students collaborate to document what they’ve learnt.
* Students help their peers to make their sentences more interesting.
* One child types a word in and other children try to list as many synonyms of it as possible.
* One child takes on the role of a person (e.g. Roman soldier, environmentalist, land developer etc.) who must answer questions posed by other children.

For more information about how to use PrimaryPad, download the PDF of this week’s Tech Tools for Teachers Newsletter Newsletter #22 PrimaryPad

Have you ever used PrimaryPad?

Do you know if any other tools like PrimaryPad?

How could you see this tool being useful in your classroom?

PrimaryPad is a web-based word processordesigned for schools that allows pupils

and teachers to work together in real-time.

Tech Tools for Teachers

Since the beginning of 2010, I have been  collaborating with a fellow teacher, Simon Collier on a free weekly e-mail for teachers.

With our 20th newsletter milestone approaching, this post is a reminder if you or someone you know has not yet signed up for the newsletters.

Each week our email newsletter features a useful online tool or website for teachers to use in their classroom.

The purpose of the email is to publicise and promote the use of ICT tools and web links to teachers who are not regularly sourcing the available information on the net.  This in turn, hopefully increasing the use of the wonderful education tools available online.

The newsletter is suitable for both primary and secondary teachers and provides practical examples of how the tool or website could be integrated into the classroom curriculum.

To access the previous newsletter, click here to visit the Tech Tools for Teachers page on my blog.

SUBSCRIBE

CLICK HERE to sign up online

tech tools

What topic would you like us to write a Tech Tools for Teachers newsletter on?

Tech Tools for Teachers #14 BTN

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on an email newsletter for teachers called Tech Tools for Teachers. Click here to find an archive of past newsletters and to subscribe.

This week we review the website Behind the News (BTN)

http://www.abc.net.au/btn/

BTN

Behind the News (BTN) is a fantastic Australian site by the ABC that helps students learn about current issues and events around the world. Each Tuesday a new episode of BTN is released online comprising of about 5 different stories that are each under 5 minutes long. The stories can be watched individually on the BTN website and also screen on ABC1 television (currently Tuesdays at 10am and Wednesdays at 10.30am).

Apart from the videos, the BTN website also contains activity sheets, links, quizzes, polls etc for follow up work. After you watch an episode you can visit the Guestbook on the BTN site to leave a comment.

While BTN is promoted for students in upper primary and secondary school, I have had great success using it with my Grade Two students. I incorporate a weekly BTN session into my curriculum. There are always a range of stories, many of which are less complex and can be understood by younger students. My class has had many rich discussions and experiences based on BTN stories and it is a fantastic way for students to learn about the world in which they live!

On the Teachers Page of the BTN website you will find a list of topics which you can go to to find archived BTN stories around a particular subject. Each topic collection contains a teacher resource pack with focus questions, activities and additional links. There are currently 15 topics with archived stories ranging from Water, to Natural Disasters to Space and Astronomy. Hopefully this section will continue to expand.

Tip: go to the Teachers Page and sign up to be on the mailing list. You will receive an email each Friday telling you what stories are coming out on the following Tuesday. If you are a Twitter user you can also follow BTN on Twitter for story updates.

We like BTN because it:
• is free
• is Australian
• is not geo restricted which means the videos can be streamed outside of Australia
• is presented in “plain language”
• doesn’t require a sign-up or login
• is suitable for all year levels from Grade Two to secondary school
• covers a huge range of current affairs and news topics
• can be used as a whole class on the IWB, or individually on student notebooks or classroom computers
• can be integrated into many subject areas
• can be used as a quick ten minute activity (5 minute video and 5 minute discussion) or as part of a more lengthy session with follow up activities.

How have you used BTN in your classroom?

Tech Tools for Teachers #11 VoiceThread

Each week, Simon Collier and I collaborate on a weekly email newsletter called Tech Tools for Teachers to inform teachers of useful online tools. Find out more here.

This week we review the website VoiceThread

http://voicethread.com

voicethread-pro

VoiceThread is a popular tool that allows you to narrate images, documents and videos. Others can join in the conversation too. Your completed VoiceThreads can be embedded in a blog or website, emailed or simply stored and viewed on the VoiceThread site.

We like VoiceThread because it:

* is free (there are paid options but these aren’t necessary)
* is easy to use
* permits you to have one account for your class with individual identities so students don’t need to sign up
* is suitable for all year levels and curriculum areas
* has a range of possible uses
* is a great tool for collaboration, reflection and creativity
* allows you to control who is able to view and contribute to your VoiceThread.

HOW TO…

To sign up to VoiceThread go to http://voicethread.com. You will see “sign in or register” in the top right hand corner of the home page. Click here and then click “register.”

* Note: VoiceThread is offering a free upgrade to K-12 educators, called the VT Educator account. This account allows you to create up to 50 VoiceThreads and gives you 250 MB of storage. It also allows you to upload audio files as comments. You can take a look at the features of the VT Educator account here.
For step by step instructions on how to use VoiceThread, check out our newsletter here Newsletter #11 VoiceThread

USES…

There are many ways to use VoiceThread in the classroom. Here are a couple of ways Kathleen’s Grade Two students have used VoiceThread in the classroom. They were all embedded on her class blog so check out the links to see the actual VoiceThreads.

1. Happy Father’s Day
The students made a comment on why their Dad is special.

2. Monster Adjectives
The students all drew a picture of an monster which they described using all the adjectives they had come up.

3. Winter Poems
Students all wrote a poem about Winter and narrated their favourite line from their poem.

4. World Earth Day

All the students left a comment with a tip about looking after the environment for World Earth Day.

voicethread5

VoiceThread is also great for peer assessments, self reflections, discussions around videos or artwork, digital portfolios or collaboration with other students/classes. There are obviously many more great ways to use this tool, only limited by the imagination of the teacher and students!

TRY IT OUT!

We have set up a VoiceThread as a means for you to try it out and share your ideas on how you could use VoiceThread in the classroom. Please leave a comment!