ALYCIA MAHER – EST430

Education related ideas and comments!

Some final thoughts on ICT and blogging…

August29

So having been blogging a couple of times a week for the last 6 weeks and this being my first experience with blogs, I have some thoughts….
It has been a good experience to write down thoughts and experiences undertaken in this unit so far, as well as other areas of ICT I have encountered. I have really enjoyed reflecting on these things with a particular consideration on their application within a classroom environment, as perhaps if we had not had the blogging task I may not have done so as much. This does lead me to reflect that setting a similar kind of task perhaps as a weekly thing for students would be really effective, both in getting them into the habit of reflecting on their work and efforts, as well as to use as a planning tool for teachers.
ICT is becoming more and more of a massive part of education within the classroom which in many ways is great, but I think teachers and students alike need to work to not forget the place of books and handwriting and the benefits of this for their future as well.

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Photo editing with Picasa

August27

So I downloaded Picasa to see what it was like as I had vaguely heard of it before but haven’t used it! This is the original photo I used which is of a poem I love.

I then took this screen shot which shows what Picasa looks like in the editing screen! You can either choose to edit using the tools on the left or you can edit in Picnik which takes you to an online editing area.

I decided to edit in Picnik which has lots of fantastic options! I chose to use the ‘Invert’ option, which as you can see alters all the colour on your photo and is very quick and easy to do!

There are also lots of other things you can do to your photos. Just like iPhoto, this is a great tool for editing photos and Picnik (through Picasa) has more editing features than your standard programs like iPhoto. Would be a great tool to use in the classroom, particularly for an art session where the students can edit photos and play around, it would be very engaging! The software for Picasa is also free to download which is great for using in the classroom as you could easily put it onto all computers. Students could also use this for editing photos and pictures for their project work and presentations; they could then make slideshows or embed them into their blogs or the Ultranet to show their artistic work!

Click here to take you to the website where you can download the program for free! If you have a regular PC you just scroll to the bottom of the page to select the PC option.

iPads for Learning

August26

I have decided to reflect on the use of iPads in the classroom for learning as on my current placement, as well as the school I work at are using them in very effective ways.

From what I have been seeing, it seems that iPads can be used in quite a number of effective ways within the classroom both for learning and teaching purposes. On my current placement the teachers are able to hook up the iPad to the IWB which is of great use for a number of things. If you want to show a worksheet for example to the whole class for them to work through, you can take a photo on the iPad and put it up on the IWB. There are also a lot of great apps; I particularly like the “Solar Walk” app which looks at our solar system, you can zoom in and out and find out specific facts and gives some great perspectives.

I’ve also found this great website on iPads for Learning as well as iPads in the Classroom that if you are interested have a look as it has some great ideas for learning in the classroom with iPads and how this links in with the curriculum.

The school I work at is a special school and we are lucky to have use of a couple of iPads which the kids really like and find very engaging. There are also a number of educational apps on there and even ones to simply help develop fine motor skills which is really great for these kids.

Obviously the biggest negative point in iPads in schools is having the funding or receiving the grants to obtain them which as I have heard can be quite difficult.

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My slideshow….

August26

So this is my slideshow put together in iPhoto. It shows some photos from my recent trip to Europe, I decided to do something a little more personal as obviously everything on the blog is related to education. I think it’s also important for students to express their interests not only to keep them engaged but also so that the teacher and their fellow students can get to know them more personally and draw on these interests if possible in lesson planning. Felt that the slideshows were a nice way to present pictures and information and could be used in the classroom by the students in presenting work perhaps as somewhat of a portfolio task, or as project work to show their facts and information gathered. Teachers could also draw on this resource to present information to their class. Once again, as with most of these programs or sites, whilst they are a great resource and could be utilised in a number of ways in the classroom, this is all dependent on the school having access to enough computers for the students to use and that they use these appropriately.

Very delayed thoughts on Google Reader (RSS)

August22

So for anyone who may not be entirely sure on what Google Reader is or how to use it….

Having now been subscribed to Reader for a number of weeks I am discovering more and more how useful it can be! Teachers could use this to keep track of their student’s blogs and any other resource sites that would be relevant. It ensures that updates are made readily available to you which is a really important factor as more and more I discover how time poor I am and being on placement is showing me how much worse this will get once I’m a teacher! Therefore to have a system set up where you just go to the one place initially makes things a lot simpler!

This article added on our wikispaces – RSS has some really good information to go about setting up and using it.

Having the students in your class subscribe could also be very useful for helping them keep track of each other’s blogs and maybe subscribe to news websites so they can keep up to date with current events. The only possible negative aspects to this would be firstly that the school would obviously have to be well resourced with computers in order for the students to be able to regularly access this. In saying this, you are then trusting the students to remember their log in details, as well as trusting them to be using the internet in a mature and responsible way.

Would I use RSS in my own classroom? I think possibly but it would really depend on what year level I had, as well as the group of children and the ICT resources available.

GoAnimate! ….fun and useful!

August22

So thanks to a great post by Jayde S I have gone onto goanimate.com and made the clip below! I think this site would be a great resource to have in the classroom where students could create animations for projects as a way of presenting their information. They could then post this on their Ultranet site for others to view and comment on, or present it to the class on the IWB, would be a great alternative to the usual powerpoint presentations and is free to sign up for! Teachers could also use it where they could make the introduction to a lesson as an animation as something a little different! I think this would be really engaging for students of any level.

GoAnimate.com: Alycia by alyciamaher

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It’s free and fun!

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Garageband Audio

August19

So I thought I’d just post on here a few instructions on embedding your audio from GarageBand as at first I thought it was quite tricky!

So for those of you who don’t know, this is what GarageBand looks like…

┬áIt is easy to create a podcast by simply choosing “Podcast” when first opening the program, then hitting the record button. Once you have recorded, you click on (at the top of the screen) ‘share’ then ‘send podcast to iTunes’.

A screen will pop up, click on ‘share’. iTunes will then open up and start playing your podcast! You then need to simply click on your podcast and drag it onto your desktop and it is now a file!

To then embed into your blog you log in, create a new post and click on ‘add audio’ where you then click ‘select file’ and choose your podcast from the desktop! All done =)

What would be great however is if it embedded with a picture as opposed to just the linked text but we can’t have everything!

Oh and a little tip for Mac users…..once the podcast is on your desktop it is a ‘m4a’ file, however if you need an ‘mp3’ file all you need to do is click once to edit the text, backspace out the ‘m4a’ and type in ‘mp3’ and it will automatically change your file type! Have fun =)

STAY SAFE ON THE INTERNET

August19

The above image shows a website on cyber safety which I think is a great resource for everyone, having areas and activities for both kids and teens as well as for parents and schools. Cyber safety issues appear to be becoming quite prominent in today’s society and having awareness of safe ways to use the internet is of massive importance for everyone.

Studying this unit and currently being on placement in a very technology-based classroom has brought even greater attention to this issue for me as my awareness of all the things you can do on the internet has been increased. I think some kind of  integrated unit on cyber safety, perhaps linked in with effective ways to browse the internet for research would be great (and necessary) to incorporate into the curriculum, particularly for middle to upper primary years where kids seem to be absorbed by technology.

If I have done it properly, you should be able to click on the picture which should take you straight to the cybersmart website, if not, click here.

 

 

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AUDIO….finally!

August19

So, after quite the number of issues and a few recordings here is my podcast (with I admit, a slightly funny voice due to being sick all week!). Reflecting on the use of audio recordings I think they could be of great use within the classroom. Instructions of explanations of class activities or homework could be recorded by the teacher and uploaded onto the Ultranet for students to access at home or at school. It would also be a good tool for those students who may be visually impaired to access information or even to record responses to work themselves, the only possible obstacle here would be the initial setup and access. Through use of audio areas of the curriculum could be used and presented in a slightly different way and whilst should not replace current methods of teaching could indeed complement areas as outlined above. Curriculum work as completed during the day could also be outlined with appropriate worksheets or guidelines on the Ultranet for students who are away for some reason and want to do some work. Audio could also be used to explain additional tasks, again with corresponding work outlines for those students who may like some additional work or challenges. I think overall it would be quite an effective tool, once feeling confident with using it which I believe would just take a bit of experimentation!

AJM Podcast

OPEN PLAN CLASSROOMS….”free flowing creativity” or simply a distraction?

August17

I am currently on placement in an open plan learning environment for all grade 5 and 6 students within the school, which is between 92-100 students in the one area. This experience has caused me to reflect on the effectiveness of such a classroom space.

Prior to starting placement i had heard a number of varying opinions on open plan, particularly that of a teacher friend of mine who said he had actually turned down a job as a graduate purely because of this set up. As such, I was a little nervous to start placement and to see how the whole situation would work! I have also read an article in “The Telegraph” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1583988/Schools-return-to-traditional-classrooms.html

which outlines that teachers have admitted to noise levels and distractions as being significant and that even students themselves have expressed that they prefer their own classrooms.

Through my own observations and experience, I feel there are both positives and negatives. It is indeed nice to have all the Level 4 students in a learning environment that is collaborative and as well resourced as the room (or building I should say) that I am currently in. Yet, it does seem at times that perhaps activities and processes are prone to becoming disorganised as it can be hard to keep track of what is going on in such a large space. When roaming the class during reading groups for example, I have noticed on a number of occasions that students aren’t on task and rich learning is not really happening. It is often very loud which for some activities does not matter, but when trying to teach a maths problem solving lesson in one of the pods, it can prove to be quite a challenge!

I have to say, whilst I don’t mind the open plan classroom in theory, in practice, there seems to be more distraction and disorganisation that “free flowing creativity”.

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