Why is this blog not so current?

What a tumultuous time the last 9 months have been…

I haven’t kept my blog up to date as I:

  • had some trouble in mid July due to an anaphylaxis reaction to nuts that were hiding in a nut biscuit (much like a trojan horse hiding in a file, there was a trace of a nut in a biscuit that I ate and my body started to go into a shutdown mode – there’s the computer link for today) while away on school camp and it has taken a while to deal with all the related stresses, mental anguish, mood swings it causes. A note for all educators – listen to any parent who says that their child is allergic to whatever and take the time to find out what precautions to take and what needs to be done if there is an accident
  • initiated a blogging event at work with over 100 people attending with James Farmer keynoting and several friends presenting (Jo, Graeme, Helen, Paul) more later
  • almost finished renovating our house in every other spare minute I had
  • working on other projects outside of school

I don’t want this blog to be old and stale and I have many ideas to keep presenting in time, but for the moment, I’m continuing to work on other projects

Presentation by Tom Barrett

Several months ago, I got in touch with Tom Barrett after we had both started blogging about Google Earth in the classroom. Tom is a Primary teacher in Grade 6 and he has a fantastic blog and his classes are using blogs as well.

I liked what Tom was doing in the classroom and I used his work in my presentation to the k12online conference last year. Then I asked Tom to do a presentation for our Primary teachers as part of the Australian Government Quality Teachers Program. It was 10 months in the making as we couldn’t find a date that we could get all our Primary teachers together. In the end, we thought we’d do one campus at a time.
Tom presented from London last week to semi-rural Melbourne. It was 7:30 am here and 10:30 pm there. Many thanks must go to our Primary staff for actually turning up (in their dressing gowns), but more importantly, Karen Griffiths who supported me throughout this activity.

Most importantly, Tom talked about how he uses Google Earth, blogs, wikis, PhotoStory and Turning Point in his class. It was enthralling to watch and listen to him as well as his captivated audience. I’ve had several comments from our staff, who were quite impressed with his presentation and several have already asked about how they can do some of the same things.

Thanks Tom.

Classrooms of the Future – Virtual Education


Many of us have heard of Second Life. But did you know there were many educational resources available? Check out Jo Kay and Sean FitzGerald’s wiki page on this very topic.
From the Educational Uses of Second Life wiki page, I found this list of links.

There are heaps of resuorces avaialble and I can see it will take me some time to get through. Am I keen to explore it?

  • Yes just to see what can be done
  • No because I’m scared I’ll spend far too much time there. I think that at the moment, I might stick with the latter option.

Little Tackers and an invitation

I recently created an assignment for our Year 8 students and I passed it onto my colleagues to use. The teachers and students have loved it and they will be presenting their finished work to our Prep to Year 2 students soon.

For the task, the Year 8 students were asked to:

  1. do some research on the Mr. Men and Little Miss series written by Roger Hargreaves and explore the style of the books
  2. write a book for 3 – 7 year old children where they had to create a character
  3. once they finished the book, they had to produce an electronic version of their story for the children
  4. produce a CD with cover art to give to the Prep – Grade 2 students
  5. share their book and computer program with the students.

We are currently in the last phase of the project and the Year 8 students have been very keen on the project. The Prep to Grade 2 teachers seem to be keen to have the Year 8’s do some reading and sharing with the students, so that will be great.

The invitation: Are there other any teachers out there interested in looking at this project to see if a worldwide project can be implemented around”Little Tackers”? Older students can participate by writing, editing, illustrating, producing animations, podcasts, etc while younger students can be the real audience. Let me know if you are interested.

The assignment task is attached here (Little Tackers) for anyone to look at. I’ll be posting an example of one of the stories soon (after getting permission from the student and parent).

Web 2.0 The Machine is Us/ing Us and Assessment

This has been out there for some time now, but if you haven’t seen it, you must see a video called: Web 2.0 The Machine is Us/ing Us. It was posted by Professor Mike Wesch.


From the video, Mike states that

Web 2.0 is linking people …
…People sharing, trading and collaborating…

We’ll need to rethink a few things …

    • copyright
    • authorship
    • identity
    • ethics
    • aesthetics
    • rhetorics
    • governance
    • privacy
    • commerce
    • love
    • family
    • ourselves.

I believe he forgot one item that we as teachers will need to rethink – Assessment.

  1. Will Web 2.0 technology change the way we assess students?
  2. What are we looking for when a student posts an entry on a class blog? Is it there spwlling or grammar? Is it there style? Or are we assessing their synthesis of a concept that they have covered in class and the fact that they have written about it and covered it in a cognitive manner?
  3. How will we assess a student’s contribution made to a group project using a wiki? Is it that important to assess each student individually? What do teachers normally do when assessing group projects in the “traditional” way? Should it be any different?
  4. Are we going to assess a podcast any differently to a written essay? Are we listening for musical introductions, tones and inflections to keep the listener interested? Or should it just be the content?

These questions interest me as I ponder whether I’ll be assessing student work any differently to a “traditional” piece of work. Of course, dinosaur teachers will use all of these questions to argue why they shouldn’t use Web 2.0 technology in class. And sadly , some of them have not yet discovered the “joys” of PowerPoint as a teaching and learning tool.

Google’s new Toilet ISP

Google_tispGoogle has finally done it – delivered FREE Broadband connection to every home – if it is connected to a sewerage system. The perennial problem of getting cables from the exchange to your home has been overcome.

So for many families near where I live that have this issue – help is not far away. By dropping a specailly made fiber optic cable down the toilet and flushing, the cable will reach a point that plumbers can connect to nodes giving access to the Internet. tisp_diagram.gif  My father is a plumber and not a computer user, and I can just see him rolling his eyes.

Google says that all three packages include

“a Google Toolbar-based analysis of your dietary habits and genetic predispositions, along with recommendations for healthier living”.

For those wondering how Google can possibly offer yet another free service, Google says that they

“believe that all users deserve free, fast and sanitary online access. To offset the cost of providing the TiSP service, we use information gathered by discreet DNA sequencing of your personal bodily output to display online ads that are contextually relevant to your culinary preferences, current health status and likelihood of developing particular medical conditions going forward”.

So what does this mean for my classes? It means that the fantastic maths program that I’m using (more about that in the near future) will be able to be accessed by all of my students. It potentiually also means that as it is a Google service, then perhaps Google Earth would cost less to download and explore sites around the world.

The only problem at the moment is it is only in the US and Canada at the moment.

PS – Check the date and time carefully.

Award – Exceptional Professional Contribution

  I don’t normally write directly about work, but today is an joecert1.JPGexception.  I want some type of record that my kids/grandkids will look at one day and know what I achieved.  Forgive the indulgence.
This evening, our school’s Board of Governors put on a cocktail party for the staff. I’m one of those people who’ll attend with no real reason (don’t go to eat the food as there are always things I’m allergic to), other than to meet the President of the Board – which to this point I had not yet achieved in 3+ years.

So tonight, I had a quick dinner with my kids – 4 year old Olivia’s favourite – sausages and chips (yuk!!), but she eats it and she’s a fussy eater. Then I went off to the Cocktail party. On the way, I stopped at a hardware store to buy some paint for our home renovation and ended up getting there late. I slipped in with some friends while our Principal (Rod) was giving a speech. Rod just finished talking about some new developments and then started thanking or congratulating people for finishing studies or giving presentatioons at conferences, etc.

4 or 5 minutes after arriving, Rod stated that there were some “awards for educational contribution” to give out and he called me out first. I was so flabbergasted, that I didn’t even take in what he said. I heard some friends congratulate me and I finally met the President of the Board as he presented me with a certificate. We didn’t say much, but I achieved an aim. Maybe next time he is at our campus, we’ll actually chat.

So what’s the big deal??? It’s nice to be recognised within a large organistaion (3 campuses with over 2oo staff) as someone who makes a difference and is showing the potential with New Technologies.

Later, I chatted with Rod and he mentioned “blogs” and that he didn’t know what they were exactly. But he knew about them. That’s exciting! I promised that if he gave me three minutes, I’d teach him something. So Rod, if you do read this, press the “add a comment” button at the top and leave a short note to see how the read/write web works.

And thanks to the encouragement I get from other educators in the bloggosphere.  It is very much appreciated.

Uniforms of the Future – Pt 3

As promised recently, I wrote an assignment on this topic. It covers gadgets used by Dick Tracy and Maxwell Smart, then looks at Nike+ runners, Levi Jeans and the Kenpo jacket, all having gadgets embedded into them. With all of these free plugs, you’d think I would get something from them, but alas no.

Students then design their own uniform for the year 2017. I’ve tried to write it so anyone can use without too much ediditing, so please feel free to use it. (except I’m trying to force our students to use Photoshop).

Anyway, here it is – let me know if you use it and the student results.


Anyone interested in joining a proposed Music Festival via VideoConference?

live-aid.jpg Gary Hodges, a good friend and colleague was buzzing today. His Year 9 Business class has been putting together a real life project revolving around the Music industry and they are in the process of organising a Music Festival at school. As part of the day’s activities, his students will raise money which will be donated to one of the school’s main charities (Cambodian Housing Project).

He was likening the activity to Band-Aid, the Bob Geldof inspired charity work where musicians gave their time freely to raise money for Ethiopia’s starving. Definitely not in the same league, but a start. He then had the thought:

Wouldn’t it be great if we could telecast it?

So, is there anyone out there who would like to beam in via VideoConference (using http protocols) and take a look at the Year 9 Business Studies class and their attempt to raise money? It won’t be high tech, modern concert gimmicks, but a chance for some local talent to strut their stuff in front of the school community and perhaps, nationally or internationally.
If you can’t participate, but think it is a good idea, can you please send a message of support so the students get an idea of what they could do in the future.  Perhaps even link this to your site for wider exposure.
This all depends of course on our IT technicians having the VideoConference equipment set up correctly (something I’ve been asking them to do for over a year and it still isn’t quite right). A lot of whatifs and maybes, but the idea and potential really excite me. Exact details to be confirmed – I think Friday March 16, midday-ish (Melbourne, Australia  time).

School Uniforms of the Future – Part 2

Get SmartI’ve been thinking about school uniforms of the future recently – whacky ideas really (see School Uniforms of the Future), where I wrote about Dick Tracy, Maxwell Smart and some current Nike shoes, Levi jeans and a jacket that have been adapted to incorporate an iPod.

So it got me thinking that this would be a great research and design project for students (both Primary and Secondary). After researching, present the open-ended question With technology converging and getting smaller, what will your school uniform look like in 2017?  I could see the boys would get right in to the technology side of the project while the girls could get in to the fashion side of things. Perhaps a group project with a boy and girl matched together for the project – if numbers allowed and boy germs didn’t contaminate the girls and vice versa (how silly are they???).

The project would have students investigate

  • Dick Tracy’s wristwatch radio
  • Maxwell Smart’s shoephone.

Research could include interviewing Mum or Dad or some other older person. The research would not have to be written evidence, but could be recorded on their mobile phone or the Sound Recorder in Windows or other recording device if they have one (eg video interview). Discussion in class could revolve around these interviews being Primary sources of information (as opposed to Secondary sources of information which would include the Internet).Students would then be required to do some research on

  • Nike+ runners and Sport Kit
  • RedWire DLX Jeans
  • Kenpo jacket

and find a common link between them.
Once the research is completed, a report (can be any format) is to be presented on each item. Then the open ended question – With technology converging and getting smaller, what will your school uniform look like in 2017? Students would be free to be serious, silly, creative, etc.
I think I’ll use it soon with one of my IT classes.  I’ll write it up and post a reference here in the next few days.