Category: Technology


This is Elmarie’s class blog. She has embedded a Wallwisher page as a way of collecting her students’ thinking. She is asking parents to speak to their children about school and get them to tell them what they enjoyed most about school this week. Then, the parents “post a sticky” on the wall to share what their kids said. How cool is that?

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This is a wonderful posting by Cristina Milos on a collaborative blog put together by Edna Sackson, both regular visitors and commentors on Art of Language.

The reason I have put it on here is because, although it is primarily about inquiry and taking students beyond the facts, it is also very rich in language and in the use of language to unlock and deepen student-thinking. It encapsulates the sentiments that all of our teaching teams expressed about language as a “vehicle for inquiry”.

Click on the image to get to the posting. Please feel free to comment either on here or on the posting itself.

Technology is great. But, there’s only a few technology innovations that really do open up a myriad of possibilities that cannot be done easily on a bit of paper or with other, more traditional methods!\

Voicethread is one of them.

Click on the image above to read an outstanding article about Voicethread and to get loads of ideas for how Voicethread could be used in your teaching.

 

 

David Crystal’s “Language and the Internet” is a very timely and provocative read:

“In recent years, the Internet has come to dominate our lives. E-mail, instant messaging and chat are rapidly replacing conventional forms of correspondence, and the Web has become the first port of call for both information inquiry and leisure activity.

How is this affecting language? There is a widespread view that as ‘technospeak” comes to rule, standards will be lost. In this book, David Crystal argues the reverse: that the Internet has encouraged a dramatic expansion in the variety and creativity of language.”


I’m undecided about all of this, I do see his point and I am helping my students to be as literate in this new era as possible. However, I am also fearful of some of the other trends I see: the Year 8 students who don’t play or talk with each other in the mornings now they have laptops to stare at, the over-reliance on the Internet for research when books, people and observations would be better options, the Facebook-update-style way that kids are starting to say sentences… expecting a “comment”, “like” or “share” at the end of each one!

Where do we go with this as educators?

Year 4 shared the work they have done for the presentations by using Glogster. This is a very visual, online tool that is designed for reading on the screen, so it was difficult for the Year 4 team to present it formally.I think it’s probably best, when presenting in the form of a website, blog or Glogster, if the audience view it on their own laptops. I don’t think the team wanted it to be a formal presentation and had more of a chat in mind. But, the audience all sat so far away from them it became much more formal!!!

Year 4 clearly place a heavy emphasis on constructivism and believe that exploratory talk, collaborative inquiry and metacognition really underpin that philosophy. They base much of their thinking on the First Steps Oral Language Developmental Curriculum and the work of Vygotsky.

This quote from David Bohm, in particular, seems to sum up their shared beliefs:

“For our classrooms to become true language labs, we must immerse all children in motivating , meaning -based experiences that will engage them at the edge of their linguistic competence.”

How do you use “purposeful talk” in your classroom?

I once heard someone say “we’re not going to bother with blogging, we need to concentrate on the kids’ writing instead”. It is only once you have truly experienced blogging, once your students have been genuinely “let loose” with a blog and once you have seen what happens to the way that students start to use written communication on a blog that you can actually understand the power of it. I love this posting called “20 reasons why students should blog”:

Click on the image to go to the full story.

I had a few minutes at the end of today, so I decided to venture up to the world of Year 5 to see what was going on. I met Bill at the bottom of the stairs and we huffed and puffed our way up them (but didn’t blow any houses down!). I figured it was a little unfair to go into any rooms with teachers who had their kids as it was getting close to 2:30 and everyone was winding things up for the day. I’m sure Jane was glad about that as her A/C was completely broken and her and the kids were sweating buckets and madly stopping sheets of paper from flying everywhere because of the temporary fans they’d been given!

Anyway, Heather was sitting at her desk “being all nerdy about a blog posting” (Heather’s words) she was putting together for the kids to work on at home. The blog posting is all about different landforms and asks the students to research the landforms in the places they come from or somewhere they have been to. It states explicitly the different ways to collect information and it has a very visual element as students are expected to use Flickrstorm to locate and use images that are relevant to their writing (yes – blogging is writing, everybody!). Heather has modeled the process for the students by doing  a piece of writing about New York.

This is a wonderful, and yet very simple, illustration of the integration of Language Arts and a unit of inquiry. The task is heavy in research skills, speaking and listening, viewing and presenting, reading and writing. It calls upon the students to write for a genuine audience and will no doubt lead to further comments and discussions online. It is very rich in relevant vocabulary and Heather plans to use the students’ writing to feed into her ongoing word wall for this unit.

Have a look at the blog posting and maybe you’d like to make a comment to tell 5HR about the landforms where you come from? I’m sure they’d love the input and could use your language in their inquiries.

Just before I left the room, I recommended this video:

It’s an amazing, visual feast that captures the world’s landforms from a hot air balloon. The language is also quite poetic, and the subtitles will really help Heather’s students to develop their vocabulary and to understand the meaning of the film.

It’s quite long, and fairly slow. Heather and I talked about how it will be good for her students to develop their ability to view films like this.

I have been contacted by a teacher called Layla Sacker from Mt. Scopus Memorial College in Melbourne. She is in the process of developing a new unit of inquiry and would like it to have a strong literature focus. She contacted me because of the work my Y6 students did with her school in the build up to their PYP Exhibition and because she knows that I am interested in planning processes and, more particularly, planning units that are quite focused.

Layla will put a planning document onto GoogleDocs and then a number of us will feed into the document when we can. GoogleDocs is a very powerful tool that I would like to learn more about, perhaps you would too?

Would you be interested in joining in this experiment? Here are the positives:

  • Good experience planning a unit of inquiry from scratch
  • Good experience to plan with no personal attachment
  • Good to plan a unit of inquiry that has a focus
  • Good to learn about how to use GoogleDocs
  • Good to establish connections with other teachers and schools

Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll inform Layla.

Image from http://www.openpages.com/blog/index.php/2010-grc-wish-list-collaborate