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  • kvnmcl 8:21 pm on January 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: design, , Fronter, home page, learning,   

    The front door to our virtual home 

    Home page #3

    Over the past few weeks I have been busy setting up my school’s Virtual Learning Environment. It’s been a stressful journey but I now feel quite confident in deploying it throughout the school. Above is an example of the current Home page that my class are greeted with when then sign in. This is my third version and it still requires tweaking but I and the children like this. We think it’s simple, uncluttered and provides a platform to get to other learning pages. I’m looking to incorporate an RSS feed as a scrolling banner just under the page title in due course and I use the Voki as an easy way to include new information about the page.

    What do you think?

    Have you got a home page design you would like to share?

    Can we make any improvements?

  • kvnmcl 10:01 pm on January 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2010, , , learning, resolutions,   

    What’s coming up. Floaters. 

    Crystal ball by David Reece

    Okay now, a floater to some might raise a few brows and cause a few to smirk. But a floater to me is an idea, and one that doesn’t go away easily. A floater comes to mind when you are usually not following the ‘rule books’, when you decide to go with the flow in the classroom and see what the outcome will be rather than try to get to the outcome you have written down. A floater can be brilliant but also annoyingly out of reach. But it’s always there and always wants to be given a chance. Here are my floaters for the year ahead.

    1. Allow my class to talk more
    2. Make the school VLE a LEARNING ENVIRONMENT!
    3. Create an ‘old school’ interactive learning display
    4. Be more creative in my approach to other parts of the curriculum e.g. Use Green screen in RE lessons to retell stories from bible
    5. Bring my guitar into school everyday for no other reason than to sing with the class
    6. Be positive and stop moaning (but some things I have to moan about and I will continue to do so)
    7. Ask my class for more feedback
    8. Talk to my class more rather than getting through the mountain of objectives
    9. Continue my personal pursuit to rid the world of pointless homeworks
    10. If Oftsted do actually make an appearance this year, welcome them with open arms and have fun

    Let 2010 commence.

    • Mark Cunningham 10:39 pm on January 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great “floaters”. 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 especially

    • Stuart Ridout 12:22 am on January 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply


      I must admit that I did have a minor smirk at the floaters but your list of floaters is great.

      I love the use of student voice in point 7, perhaps it could link to #2 and students could vote or rate lessons using the VLE. #6 benefits everyone (not specifically in your case but in general) and I think is something we could all try to take on board.

      Something that really excites me is #4. I love using green screen but find it tough to make it work in the classroom with so many people. We have a few staff who use green screen and one teacher is making a film using both live action and green screen (you can see the trailer at http://blip.tv/file/2960987 )

      Good luck with it! I look forward to seeing your outcomes online!

    • Pam Thompson 1:41 am on January 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      What a great list – a nice balance. Love the idea of taking your guitar in every day – an opportunity to chill & give the outcomes a rest 🙂

  • kvnmcl 9:00 pm on September 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , classroom tech, educational technology, elearning, learning, tech, , ,   

    ‘Tech’ it or leave it 

    I’ve started at my new school as a teacher of a Year3/Year4 class. It’s the first time I have had the opportunity to teach a mixed year group and I’m looking forward to the changes that it will bring to my style of teaching and how I will organise the class effectively. It’s too early to make generalisations but as the years of experience gather we can make very good assumptions as to which of our students will continue to do well and which will need that experience to bring them up to speed. The same is true for the technology that I am considering to be most effective in this coming year for my class. I am basing my assumptions on what has worked effectively in the past and should continue to work well with my new class. But first let me list some of these tools before outlining the ones I intend to use.

    Tried and trusted tech

    • Audacity – This is a must in any classroom environment. It’s an open source (free) sound editing tool that is simple to use but is also a very powerful audio editor/mixer/creator. I have used it to capture guided reading sessions, recounts, stories, podcasts, top ten lists, anything that involves capturing and editing audio. Let your imagination run with this. I particularly like the facility to record and manipulate your voice – you can sound like a chipmunk, slow your voice to a crawl, play it backwards. I’ve also used it to capture cassette tapes played through the PC mic and then converted them to mp3 for internal classroom use. Don’t forget to download the LAME MP3 plugin or else you won’t be able to save your audio creations in MP3 format.

    Popular tech

    • PhotoPeach – This is a wonderfully easy and effective photo presentation tool that children will find addictive. Check out these samples from my own class.
    • VoiceThread – If you have a class that wants to let their views out upon the world then don’t shy away from this clever online tool. Combining text, voice and video into one seamless interactive ‘page’ you and your class will enjoy creating and posting your thoughts and ideas.
    • Wordle – Simply put, the more words you paste into the the greater visual impact it will return. Fantastic for an instant word hit.
    • Animoto – If you want to raise your game in the video editing stakes but are not quite ready for a fully blown movie editing package then animoto is perhaps what you’re lloking for. Upload some video, photo and audio and it does the rest, producing a 30 second visual feast for free. There’s a cost for longer videos but many say it’s worth it.
    • Edmodo – A social networking site for classroom use. It’s safe and an effective tool for communication with your class, and for your class to communicate with each other. You can set up homework, assignments, create calendars, share files, assess and respond to work, create reminders. I used it last term with great success.

    New and exciting tech

    There’s only one tool that I’m really looking forward to this month and that’s Google Wave. It’s been described as an online communication and collaboration tool that’s done in real time. If you haven’t watched the video then do so and sign up to get a first look.

    p.s. I can’t let this tool slip by without a mention. A few days back, Tim Rylands happened to post a link about this on Twitter. It’s called ScreenJelly and it lets you record exactly what is on your screen when you press the record button AND record a voiceover AND post it directly to Twitter or email. All without downloading anything. It’s a brilliant wee tool and one which I thoroughly recommend. I’ll have to try this out with my class too.

    There are many, many more tools out there. Too many to try and use effectively. If there’s one thing to learn about these new, and exciting online tools it’s how do they fit into your teaching and learning? Find the time to try them and judge for yourself.

  • kvnmcl 4:48 pm on June 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , learning   

    Learning away from the classroom 

    A child in my class was off school today but kept ‘in contact’ with us using Edmodo. She explained to use she wouldn’t be in but would create an animoto as a surprise for someone in our class. We were all intrigued so we checked back later and before home time we discovered her link to the following video.

    [clearspring_widget title=”Animoto.com” wid=”46928cc51133af17″ pid=”4a366d45fcf81cd5″ width=”432″ height=”240″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

    The video is for a girl who will be, like myself, leaving the class and the island at the end of June to start a life elsewhere. It’s a beautiful peice of work and brought home to me that my teaching of these tools is being used effectively for continued learning by my class outside of school.

  • kvnmcl 6:58 pm on May 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , learning,   

    Myst V – Day 3 

    The excitement and anticipation that this game has brought to my class is truly an inspiration. Before we had even gotten into the classroom children were asking me when we were going to do Literacy. It’s become their favourite subject with no exceptions.

    I set up two chairs for hot seats and asked the class to recap on yesterday’s events. I use hot seats in the way wrestlers use their partners – children can tag others to get into the seat to talk and since we started using Myst everyone wants to talk. It’s a busy 5 minutes and the conversation is wonderful; I will have to record one session for you to listen to so you can experience the intensity of discussion.

    (More …)

  • kvnmcl 6:27 pm on May 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , learning,   

    Myst V – Day 2 

    Wow! What an amazing lesson we had today. The collective sigh of extreme disappointment that the class let out when I had to stop the lesson was felt around the room.

    We picked up from Friday’s first exploration by discussing what might happen next, who we might meet and the clues we have found. I provided my class with a template to work from and they discussed the following questions with their buddy (working partner).

    • We have met two characters – Yeesha and Esher, both have stories to tell. But do you trust one character more than the other? Who do you trust? Explain your answers.
    • What is Myst? Can you describe the world that we have encountered so far? What other places do you think we might find?
    • What are your thoughts and feelings so far about Myst?

    The children sat working diligently for 20 minutes as I walked around joining in on conversations, asking questions and listening to their responses and explanations. I have only witnessed this level of interaction from my class when we have been on excursions or during Science experiments but never in a Literacy lesson. The level of anticipation grew as I invited buddies to speak to the class.

    And then the windows were closed, lights switched off and the door firmly shut so that we could continue on our quest.


  • kvnmcl 11:14 pm on May 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , learning, ,   

    Myst V – the beginning of our adventure 

    I have been reading all about Mark Warner’s uses of Myst in the classroom over the past couple of weeks and I just had to buy a copy of the game and find out what all the fuss was about. As soon as I installed it and started to play I immediately saw why it has been given such a positive response by many teachers as an inspirational teaching and learning tool.

    Over the next 6 weeks I will provide a daily account of how I have used the game with my class, what skills they have developed from using it, the lessons I have taught and the work they have done so that you too might just decide to take the plunge and try it with your own class.

    (More …)

    • EBD35 11:53 am on May 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi ya. I teach in an EBD primary special school (5boys/2girls) and used Myst III for pre ofsted and ofsted lessons and my class LOVED it.
      I look forward to following your adventures over the following week(s)

    • K Haig 11:56 am on May 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      “Unfortunately I now have to play the game on my own so I can prepare activities to be used throughout the next few weeks as we delve deeper into it, but I can safely say that I will enjoy every moment of it.”

      This sounds such a hardship! Really interesting reading your thoughts, just found your blog through twitter and it is interesting reading- thanks!

    • kvnmclaughlin 12:13 pm on May 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      @EBD35 If you have any ideas and activities that you would like to share I’d be more than grateful.

      @K Haig Definitely a hardship 🙂 I just find it difficult not to keep playing it and seeing it through to the end. I want to keep some sense of wonder as I use the game with my class.

    • Dawn Willman 1:53 am on May 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I used to teach 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. I am currently a stay at home mom with my 3 and 6 year old. I will be tutoring students in writing this summer. I am just now through internet research hearing about the use of the Myst game for writing lessons. Has anyone published anything that has lessons already prepared with writing concepts and the use of this game? Are there any good websites out there to go to that have writing lessons for this game?

    • KOL 12:27 pm on June 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      It’s a shame that, as literature, Myst V is easily the weakest of the series. On the other hand it’s also among the easiest game-wise, so I can definitely see it as a good subject to examine in a classroom.

  • kvnmcl 10:05 am on May 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , learning, , , Wii   

    Using a Wii in the classroom. 

    wii-teachI’m not a skeptical sort. I’m up for most things in life and as an educator I believe in the same guideline, otherwise I’d be still doing everything on my blackboard. That’s not to say it isn’t useful but with the technology we have today and some literally at our fingertips i.e. samrt table we would be foolish not to embrace it.

    So, I decided a while back to try out a Wii as a possible teaching/learning tool in the classroom and you can judge for yourselves if it’s of educational value or not.

    (The first point for example is quite debatable but must be mentioned)

    (More …)

    • Mark Warner 5:31 pm on May 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for sharing these ideas… it’s great to see so many educational uses.

      You’ve made me want to take mine into school, even more so than before!

    • kvnmclaughlin 9:05 pm on May 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Do take it in Mark, you won’t regret it. I’m taking mine back in during a topic of Film Making we have coming up in 2 weeks as we’ll be using ICT throughout our work quite a bit over the next 4 weeks.

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