Friday, September 29, 2006

Blink and there's a new idea fighting its way into the education armoury - this week it's GoogleEarth. Tony Barrett http://tbarrett.edublogs.org/ has done a lot of work developing the use of GoogleEarth in conjunction with feeds from GPS gizmo's. Also I was linking up with Papajo (Joseph) on http://papajo.edublogs.org/ and Jeff Utecht on http://jeff.scofer.com/thinkingstick/ who have all used the program in a creative way with pupils.
These ideas sound great to me, a bit of a problem when many school PC's are win98!! as GoogleEarth will only run on XP, unless anyone knows of a way it can be done??
I have been working lately on a project to improve writing amongst Year6 (10-11 year olds) pupils using the Making The News site http://kmi4schools.e2bn.net/wales_cefnfforestprimary/index.htm run in conjunction with The Open University and the East of England Business Network (E2BN). The aim of the site is to enable pupils to write for a 'real' audience. The pupils news items/video/podcasts are moderated by the administrator (me in our case) and then sent live to the site - their work at present has an education audience of 250 per month. Having an actual audience has a beneficial effect on the childrens writing, which they modify readily and eagerly. We are now considering extending this to a group that we have in school who are underachievers in writing. I also plan to use podcasting for this group to further advance their writing (for a real audience). I will report back on progress on this work.
I am still very excited about the iMac however no letter yet, I am currently looking for the best price on an iMac 13" 2.oGB RAM, 60GB HD - anyone with ideas welcomed.
As for me, well it's just coming up to midnight on FRIDAY 29th September, and having had a relaxing whisky and part watched a 'fluffy' film on Film 4 called American Sweethearts, I guess it's time to call it a day!!! Tomorrow 16yo daughter to Risca (20miles away) by 9.00 am for Under 16 S Wales hockey practice then me to Barry for 2.30 to play hockey for my own team ( Abergavenny Hockey Club - good website !!!) and then Sunday I take our Under 11 team to a tournament in Swansea (45 miles away) for a 11.30 start - and they call it the weekend !!!!
is there time for another whisky ????

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Things are definitely looking up. I had approached our 'Friends of the School' (Parents Association) to ask if they could assist with the purchase of an Apple iMac laptop. I want to continue my creatvie IT Digital video and Podcasting in school and have struggled with my slow Dell laptop for long enough - I want to try iMovie and GarageBand. During a meeting on Wednesday evening I am told that the committee have approved my application. I am very excited and you can rest assured that as soon as I get the letter I will be straight onto the supplier to buy the Apple - I can't wait.

Another pebble that I would like to toss into the pond is - Is there a real need for Interactive Whiteboards in Primary Education, beyond the Wow factor ? We are currently looking at purchasing another 3 boards ( £6000 - incl installation) , however I am at a crossroads with IWB's I can clearly see benefits, however I am concerned that technology will move on and they may become expensive White Elephants. For me to say this is a great change in direction, for I have been the champion of the whiteboard in the school for the past 6 years or so... views would be welcomed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I must be getting a bit paranoid ( that doesn't mean they're not out to get me!!!!) but following my last blog when I mused about anyone at my local training centre ESIS reading the blog - imagine how I felt when checking my stats I found a listing from Caerphilly County Borough Council (my employers) - panic!!!! ( though I haven't said anything wrong )
It was only a few minutes later that I remembered that I had checked the blog at lunchtime today using the school internet link ( hence Caerphilly CBC ) - now I need a drink !!!!
Well it's a bit like waiting for a bus - nothing for ages then everything arrives at once - I must apologise to my local area training agency ESIS, I have been pushing to include creative IT in Primary ( I know that I lack patience sometimes ) - but I heard nothing for ages, until today in a meeting with my Headteacher yesterday one of the IT Consultants at ESIS (Graham Evans) is running a series of IT Transition(Primary-Comprehensive) units involving Creative IT in our school in 3 day- long sessions starting early next month ( initially powerpoint (a bit old-fashioned) and digital video... little does he know (unless he reads this - are you there Graham??) that I plan to sidetrack him into blogging and podcasting ( I spent over an hour today ensuring that Audacity is installed on all of my IT Suite PC's in readiness. So there you go - everything comes to he who waits (im)patiently!
I also had a qualifying comment from Terry Freedman re his comment less haste more speed, mainly regarding how we validate/gather evidence to give a benefit for the use of web 2.0 http://www.techlearning.com/blog/main/archives/2006 follow the link, it puts Terry's point very clearly and certain makes one think about why we are into this technology and how we overcome some degree of resistance with evidence, Thank You again Terry.
Is anyone else going to to Podcasting Conference at Smithfield in November??? (November 18th - price £41 including lunch) I would love to go but with travelling as well it's a bit pricey for a 'poor' teacher!!! If you went last year let me know if you found it worthwhile.

And I leave you with a final thought in relation to Web 2.0 developing over the next few years -
' let the geek inherit the Earth. '

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just a quick post this evening firstly to say thank you to Ewan for contacting me, to let me know that there is support out there in the blogosphere - even though one has to become an honourary Scot ( as a Welshman - I'm not so sure about that !!!) but I look forward to being helped by some of Ewan's blog-clan.

While searching around this evening I found 2 interesting resources : first is sir Ken Robinson's lecture to the TED conference give it a watch it is very inspirational ( about what creativity is and how we should nurture it in education
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4964296663335083307

The second is another lecture this time by Judy O'Connell from Australia she dicusses new technology and how our pupils use the technology as part of their life - they don't use the term 'digital age' it's just how they live, and stating that we in education need to pay attention to this fact - a good reasoned arguement worth listening to.
It is already 12.40am and with a full teaching day today !!! Time to call it a day.
http://heyjude.podomatic.com/?badge=1

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Great news there are other UK web 2.0 educators ( sorry Americanised !!!) out there in the blogosphere. I took a walk down to the village about 1 mile away this morning and on my return I found that I ahd had an e-mail from another teacher Tom Barrett - a teacher from Nottinghamshire. He has been doing some great work with his class, and is particularly interested in the use of GPS in geo-tracking or geo-caching. He has also a Flikr site, this prompted me to upload some of our Summer 2006 onto a Flikr. A link to Tom's blog is is in my list of friends on the left. I have had time to mull over what Terry Freedman said about less haste more speed, I was listening again to Geek-ed episodes 40 and 41, and there they were saying no - we need haste, we need to assimilate the good points of the new technology as quickly as we can - and there's the dilema - haste or no haste - just frustration. I still intend to push forward with my projects through the year - it would be gret to gather a group of 'friends' us in the 'hooked on blogging and podcasting' kind in UK. We can spin ideas off each other - what do you think out there ?
I must say that my podcast of the week must be Smelly Monkeys http://smellymonkeys.blogspot.com/2006/05/smelly-monkeys-45.htmla podcast by a dad and his sons who have great fun and provide good entertainment into the bargain - check it out.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

It was very reasuring to get a positive response to my question regarding spreading the word of web 2.0 from David Warlick on his site (2 cents worth). I was interested in the comments for the posting from Terry Freedman and BlakeJ and Dave himself. I take all of their comments on board - it is very frustrating being relatively early in anew field of communication and wondering how others just plain ' don't get it!'
I realise that it is going to take a great deal of stamina to continue doing the 'stuff' ( podcasts, blogs and digital video ) until everyone else is up to speed. I hope that I have the required stamina - at present this doesn't seem a problem.
The really frustrating point here is that I can clearly see what is being done in other parts of the world ( and Scotland !) and of the eductional benefit to kids. I fear that we are disadvantaging our pupils in the new technological world if we fail to keep up with what's new ( and that is bordering on neglect !!! I feel ).
So I hope that I can get some like minded people together locally to push this forward - I will certainly give it a try - while bearing Terry's advice of making haste slowly in mind ( even though this seems to fly in the face of how fast things are changing )
School will still be there on Monday and 29 students will need teaching how to write and spell ( and how to sharpen their pencils - technology uh ? )
It was good to get a positive response to my plea for help regarding spreading the word of Web 2.0 to my colleagues in school and district ( cluster group of schools). Terry Freedman made the point that being first ( or early) in a field is not always easy, and to make haste slowly - this however is very frustrating, and takes a lot of stamina ( keeping the faith while others gradually catch on ). I hope that I have got that stamina, at present I am very much enthused by what the technology can do for my kids ( in their creative writing - collaborative work ) I hope that I can sustain this amount of effort until everyone else catches on.
I did spend an hour after school with 12 colleagues extolling the virtues of using digital video in the classroom- and plan to lead another session where we will look into audio production - podcasting- using audacity and www.podomatic.com. I hope that I can murture these seedlings of hope and start to get the word out, at least in my own school. I will keep you posted.
It was good to get a positive response to my plea for help regarding spreading the word of Web 2.0 to my colleagues in school and district ( cluster group of schools). Terry Freedman made the point that being first ( or early) in a field is not always easy, and to make haste slowly - this however is very frustrating, and takes a lot of stamina ( keeping the faith while others gradually catch on ). I hope that I have got that stamina, at present I am very much enthused by what the technology can do for my kids ( in their creative writing - collaborative work ) I hope that I can sustain this amount of effort until everyone else catches on.
I did spend an hour after school with 12 colleagues extolling the virtues of using digital video in the classroom- and plan to lead another session where we will look into audio production - podcasting- using audacity and www.podomatic.com. I hope that I can murture these seedlings of hope and start to get the word out, at least in my own school. I will keep you posted.

Friday, September 22, 2006

We have begun podcasting - at present only with my Year 3 class. We are at present in the process of deciding what type of podcast we would like to make - at present it looks as if it is going to be a radio programme format with sections taken by groups of pupils. We dipped our toes in the water with a few discussions - readings and joke sessions - to be found at http://cefnfforest.podomatic.com I can't sing the praises of podomatic too highly at present the site seems well run and moderated with a group of very nice people podcasting on the site, who are very supportive of each other. The people who run and look after the site seem very responsive to us pod-folk as well so if you can hear me Podomatic - thank you.
I have started another group of Year 6 pupils working in lunchtimes being NewsHounds - they are writing articles with photo's and posting the to another great site - Making The News - which is run by E2BN ( East of England Business Network) in association with the Open University. I will try to put in the link we are in the region Wales and at present are the only welsh school using the site.... http://kmi4schools.e2bn.net/uk_mtn/
It is beginning to dawn on me why the day is never long enough and I never seem to be able to sit down for lunch !!!!!!
THE WEEKEND ARRIVES
It hasn't taken very long back in school to make the weekends ( and Friday afternoons when the w/e is in view) hallowed ground. When on school break you forget the amount of energy that you need throughout the teaching day. We have arrived it is Friday evening and the short weekend is laid out before us... time to take a deep breath and relax.

School itself has begun with a bang and as a Primary School ICT Co-ordinator occasionally the bangs are literal... We had a case in point this time last year. We were in the process of going through the Basic Skills application process A colleague and I had spent 3 months gathering all of the information for the visit of the accessor who was due in early October. One of the issues we wanted to work on was giving pupils who needed additional Maths support access to a computer running a Maths Learning Program on a regular basis. We found a great room, being used as a Reading Support Room and set about equipping it with a PC. Problem - no free PC's in school- solution, our Infant School Cook was getting rid of a PC ( win95) and wanted it to go to a good home. Great, all we had to do was wipe all of the program data off the hard drive and load our Maths Program, and timetable the room. All worked well for about a week, and then the day before the accessor was due in, my room which is opposite said Reading Support Room begins to fill with an acrid smoke !!! I rush out of the room and notice a pall of smoke in the corridor coming from the R.S. Room. Once inside I realise that the monitor is in meltdown - quickly turning off the power at a main point we disconnect the machine and allow it to cool down - PC is toast and is disposed of ( environmentally). However the strong electrical smell persist for weeks - Basic Skills accessor sees the funny side of what could have been a very dnagerous/disasterous situation - moral schools should not accept other peoples hand-me downs...
This year has not quite lived up or down to this, however we have had the usual early demise of a few old (win95) PC's and a few elderly printers who have lost their heads and are 'not worth saving'. Hence my Headteacher is steering a wide berth as I am about to land our budget with the inevitable costs of such mortality ( at present a £3,000 suggested replacement cost - much to offset by leasing ). I feel uneasy when other Departmental Heads are told that money will be tight this financial year - but it is ever so.
One situation which I am really fed up with is the problem of replacing fixed digital projectors when they also reach the end of their life expectancy. We have had such an experience as a projector which was bought for ourshinyy new IT Suite in 2000 has also died ( the suite isn't soshinyy either anymore- but has coped well over the years, and has become my second home). Unfortunately when replacing you find out that there is not a standard focal length or prefered height for projectors and so to replace a £600 projector we will have to move and adjust the mounting bracket and support and re- direct all of the trunking for same ( cost - an additional £500), so £1100 to replace a projector ( and I thought prices were falling !!!!)
So far as you can see just a few weeks into a new school year and I am already heading towards a spend of £4,000 out of an already described 'tight budget'.
I asked a colleague the other day if I were the Geography co-ordinator would people coming knocking on my door if a textbook was ripped or a compass was faulty - I think not - however an IT co-ordinator seems to have a constant stream of visits and requests to load or repair or just plain help others with their computer woes - I think that it is time to end rant and have some peaceful weekend time - lean back and relax - ( oh dear apparently our home computer isn't printing properly and someone wants me to have a look !!!!! Have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This blog will be the musings of a welsh Primary School teacher who should probably get out more !!!
There are some interesting things happening in the world of Web 2.0 at present with the upcoming K12 online conference http://www.k12onlineconference.org/ which look as if it is going to be an interesting step in global communication using the web. The site is still looking for us out there to give them suggestions for the conference content - another step forward. I know that David Noble at Booruch http://booruch.libsyn.com/ is into skypecasting in addition to running an excellent blog and podcast. I guess the leading light in all Web 2.0 stuff is David Warlick http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/ he who must be the blog/pod guru. You see I told you that I should get out more !!!!
An issue that I would like some feedback on is, how in the rest of the UK ( excluding Wales) laptops for pupils run by e-Learning Foundation works out. Their development Director Ray Moore wrote an article in last week's TES (15th September) headlined Home Sweet Laptop where he was showing how the digital divide is growing between England and Wales in as much as in UK as a whole 58% of homes have a PC and 49% have internet connection, while in Wales the same figures are 51% and 41% apparently lowest in UK apart from Northern Ireland and getting wider( straw pole in my Year 3 class - 15 out of 29 with no PC access at home ). In Wales we do not have the laptop for pupils due to the policy of our Assembly to use their funds in other directions ( that's another story).
The aim is that parents agree to pay £3 per week in order to give their child access to a laptop for use in school and at home ( they have a tie up with AOL for free internet access) - while even £3 is a small amount of money, there will still be parents who will not see the worth of computer access even at that price while others will find even that amount quite high on a regular basis. I would like to know if this disadvantages these pupils even more than when there is no scheme at all - this is a problem that my headteacher wanted clarification on also.

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