Monday, December 31, 2007

5 Top Images from 2007

Top 5 (well almost) Images from 2007

Following Ewan McIntosh's Five favourite photo's from 2007 post,
I see that many edubloggers including AllanahK, are joining in so why not?
Here are probably my 5 favourite images from 2007, they are a mixture of the personal and professional.

1. ( even though there are 2!) just have to be pictures of two of the sweetest grandchildren in the world - Abi ( Abigail) aged 1 on 17th January 2007 - the day Jaycob Isaac was born. The top photo is my favourite one of all - not shot by yours truly as you can probably tell ( too in focus and arty!!!), but by Laura ( youngest daughter aged 17!)
The lower shot I love for the look in Abi's eyes towards her brother - they love each other dearly - honestly :-)
This holiday time we have had their and their mother's company many times and as all grandparents will testify that time is precious - even when they wake everyone up at 5am on Christmas morning!

2. Is one of the many we had of our visitor from Moturoa Class, Nelson New Zealand and their teacher - the inspirational Allanah King - Cuddly Kiwi.
CK arrived in October 2006, following our sending the geocaching bear Tiny Ted to New Zealand. These two cuddly toys were the symbols of the link between out 2 schools which grew during 2007, to the extent that Dino from Moturoa came into school to see us while in the UK on holiday and we skyped back to his classmates 12.000 miles away . CK has been much loved over his time in Wales ( presently entertaining my grandchildren before he returns home in the New Year ).

3. This year, like some of my friends who will remain nameless, to spare their blushes - I seem to have passed the milestone of managing to stay alive for 50 years!!!
I wanted a low key celebration unsure of whether I was truly cool with the idea ( I'm still not sure - but just have to live with it).
( Mrs H has this to come in August - also our 25 Wedding Anniversary).
The family did buy me a Ferrari Experience at Silverstone, which in true low key fashion I managed not to actually book until a rainy Saturday in November!!!

4. Is a shot of Joe Dale (looking at the camera) and Mark Pentleton (Radio Lingua Network) - (not looking at the camera!). Having lived life in the virtual world - some may say - get a life!!!! It was great to actually meet up with 3 online colleagues on the last weekend in August this year at the first PodcampUK - the person not in shot, possibly as he wasn't still for long enough is David Noble ( of the influential Booruch Podcast) - David decided to travel from Dalgetty Bay Scotland to Aston Birmingham and back again within the day !!!! he really must be bonkers! Podcamp was a good opportunity for us, education people to meet the commercial guys and gals of the Podcasting Community in the UK - the uncinference nature allowed Joe to do a presentation which was simultaneously video streamed and watched by some of our socio/education network in the US and New Zealand - the power of Web 2.0.

5. Is back to another personal choice - I am sometimes known, ( especially here in Abergavenny!) to bang on just a bit about hockey ( the field variety - not ice!). Abergavenny is a small town with a small club( we run 2 men sides, a ladies side and a range of junior teams), which has been running since 1897 - strangely, no, I haven't been around from the beginning, only since 1973-ish. In my time I have held most of the organisational roles - as people do in small town clubs - I am presently Chairman, 2nd XI Team Captain ( I know I'm too old and decrepit!) and Junior Lead Coach - and to cut a very long story, much shorter the photograph is of our Under 11 team of 2006-2007 who have been playing together since they were mostly 9 - they have come a very long way and in their final tournament in their age range ( now they are a young Under 13 team) they finished runners up in the South Wales Finals in Swansea in May 2007 - a very proud moment for not only me, but also their parents and the club. There I will get off my soapbox now !

I wish everyone who reads or just follows my blog a special and prosperous 2008 - and look forward to the photographs that will be posted :-)

One door closes..... and another opens!

Today marks the change in career for Ddraig Goch. (31st December is my last day working for my LEA - yup I even have my P45!!)
It was a very strange experience to be leaving a job (vocation) that one has tried your best at for 19 years...... but it definitely felt like the right time to change.
It is really only in the past 2 years that my horizons have been broadened. I well remember when I began to podcast myself, before introducing it to my pupils, that I left a comment on Ewan McIntosh's EduBlog asking whether there was anyone in my locality doing the same stuff. Ewan's reply that you will find people in many locations interested in the same ideas, started me on a journey that has not yet stopped..... yet.
Many have said that collaborations within the edublogger community have given them the best CPD ( Continuous Professional Development) they have ever had, are not wrong...... the chance to sound ideas out with colleagues on a global scale is truly liberating..... plus you get to meet ( in my case 99% virtually) such a wonderful group of teachers and administrators who are always pushing the boundaries of what the technology can achieve.
I for one certainly didn't expect to be meeting and collaborating with the edublogger community on such a scale when I started..... and I have certainly met more educators in the past 18 months than during the rest of my career.... and they are everywhere from right here in the UK to USA, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Shanghai..... the list goes on.
There have been some strange experiences such as taking part in Educational 'Speed Dating sessions with teachers in the US and New Zealand, and taking part virtually in conference presentations for friends.... indeed I was able on a few occasions to bring those same friends into my presentations for teachers here in Wales. I was asked by another friend, to be a peer assessor for her strand of the K12 Online 2007 UnConference, which was a huge honour.
All of this networking does begin to take over from the daily tasks of teaching, it is very seductive and draws you in - very like the debate over 'how hooked we are to social networking?' ( today I received requests to collaborate with people in both LinkedIn and Pownce).
When the opportunity came along to be more involved in online activities with the International Baccalaureate, it was time for me to weigh up, whether to continue with more of the same or to take that step into the unknown, and face a new challenge...... it was time for change.
I looked recently at the 'Did You Know?' series of presentations started by Karl Fisch, where he looks at the fact that our 7 and 8 year olds are being prepared for a future where the jobs they will do, haven't been invented yet..... there are educators all around the globe who have been involved in Web 2.0 projects who are also at this time considering what the future is for themselves.... changing career or just changing roles?..... many looking at jobs which probably 2 or 3 years ago didn't the end you just have to go with your gut feeling.... I think that 99% of the time your first reaction is the right one.
I fully intend to stay fully involved in the Web2.0 edublogger community, looking at new ways for integrating the tools into learning, but from a slightly different perspective, that of looking for ways to enhance the Professional Development of teachers..... yo don't get rid of this Welshman that easily.
I am also really looking forward to meeting many UK colleagues at the TeachMeet08 on Friday January 11th at the BETT Show in Olympia, London ( for those not lucky enough to be there look out for a live stream either in FlashMeeting or possibly UStream.TV .......)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I just couldn't resist this one :-)

I know, I know !!! I have posted too much already... but this I couldn't resist -Thanks to Karl Fisch and Alec Couros for this gem from YouTube via Nokia .... it just makes you think what happens if our kids come up with 'out there' ideas today... who really knows what will happen.....?? thanks guys.

How organised are you??

I must admit .... personally..... and professionally.... not very. I notoriously have at least one miscellaneous space ( often more). Doing the usual reading of blogs ( it must be that time of year!!)I came across Kathy Shield's RipplingPond blog post on David Weinberger's work Everything is Miscellaneous, it certainly struck a chord with me ( I can't think why -lol). I began only planning to catch a few minutes of the presentation.... and stayed hooked for the full 48 odd minutes... it is definitely worth watching at this time of year as one considers re-organising, do take a look I don't think that you will be disappointed.

Thanks to Kathy for finding this YouTube gem :-)

Author David Weinberger discusses his book "Everything Is Miscellaneous" as part of the Authors@Google series. David Weinberger is the co-author of the international bestseller "The Cluetrain Manifesto" and the author of "Small Pieces Loosely Joined". A fellow at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, Weinberger writes for such publications as Wired, The New York Times, Smithsonian, and the Harvard Business Review and is a frequent commentator for NPR's All Things Considered. This event took place May 10, 2007 at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA

Friday, December 28, 2007

Google Talk v Skype v Twitter !!!

Since I had to return my marvellous MacBook to school, I have been struggling with the problem of not being able to connect with colleagues and friends over Skype , as I have done for the past 9 months or so - I have found this hugely frustrating, I hear part of conversations through Twitter ( pj23harry).
My Dell Inspiron 1300, doesn't like Skype, and in fact I lose all internet connection with Skype running on the laptop.... Today on my trawl through my Bloglines I came across a few articles by Darren Draper on Google Talk (beta). Google's Applications have of late been coming along plugging many gaps in the online experience and Talk appears to plug another. I guess it will be a matter of time and take up as to whether Google Talk becomes a chosen means of communication in the blogosphere, but it certainly has a few plus points going for it - ( although by means of a health warning I haven't yet carried out a conversation using it - should find me though if you want to add me to your list of contacts)
Talk has :
Group Chat
You can now invite multiple people to chat with you in a group using the Google Talk Gadget. When you're chatting with a friend, just click on the "Group Chat" button to invite one or more friends to join the conversation.
Popout support and Flickr slideshows
You can now do more with the Google Talk Gadget. In addition to putting the gadget on your Google Personalized Homepage, you can now pop out the gadget into a separate, small window anytime. This way you can navigate to other websites and still keep your contact list and chats open. And just like running the gadget on your homepage, this way of using Google Talk is completely web-based, and requires no download.
Google Talk Gadget on your Blog
f you have your own webpage or blog, you can also add a button to your site so your visitors can pop out the Google Talk Gadget when they visit your page. If you want them to chat with you, just list your username next to the button and ask visitors to sign in and add you as a contact.
File Transfer
With this top requested new feature, you can send unlimited files and folders to your friends through Google Talk. There is no restriction on the file type or size and the peer-to-peer transfer is fast and reliable
If your friends aren't around to answer your call, you can leave them a voicemail message instead. Just record your voice after the "Meep" and your friends will get an email to their Talk contact address with the voicemail attached as an audio file. They can play your message when they check their email and save it for as long as they want.
There are a wide range of languages which are supported within Google Talk.
Additional goodies
You can also it appears go to private offline conversation person to person if you wish ( similar to the private chat feature in Flashmeeting. You can copy over YouTube and Picassa Albums which can be played directly in the Google Talk Widget.

I can see Google Talk giving the people at Skype some sleepless nights if this catches on, especially as Talk comes into a growing comprehensive suite of 'free' online tools and applications which Google is currently developing. I for one hope that Google Talk will be more reliable on my laptop than Skype has been ..... let battle commence :-)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The debate about Learning in the 21st C by 21st C Educators

I am endebted again to Kim Cofino and her colleagues Dennis Harter, Justin Medved, Struan Robinson and Teresa Belisle from the International School in Bangkok, for their energy and enthusiasm for embracing Web 2.0 technology into the curriculum in their recent discussions on Embedding 21st Century Literacy into Curriculum Planning ( Kim is 21st Century Literacy Specialist at the International School) , and also internalising tech such as blogging for their own means of reflection ( this kind of joined up thinking using new technology tools is what, I, for one tried and failed to get embedded in my school/ local area - and may be why I ultimately sought to find people to work with who have this degree of 'vision').
To have teaching colleagues embrace not only blogging but also collaborative Google Docs as a means of not only communicating their ideas must be truly galvanising, but also allowing the wider community to make changes to the document, making it a truly 21st Century work in progress- in Struan's words
"Why do I share this thinking and this story? I come back to the opening anecdote about our visiting literacy specialist who was impressed with our intellectual thinking. It made me reflect- through our daily collaboration, I am challenged everyday. We are asking big questions and although we don’t have all the answers, we are hungry for more. 21st Century thinking… bring it on!!"

It was on Dennis Harter's blog that I came across his post on Why they need us, in which he had used Mike Wesch's thought provoking video as a discussion point on the effectiveness of education in the classroom or lecture room of the 21st Century.

a short video summarizing some of the most important
characteristics of students today - how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Dr Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

Thank you again Kim and the progressive staff at ISB for your work, which I am sure others grappling with implementing and embedding 21st Century Literacies into their Curriculum will find really useful.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tools and Applications of 2007

Reflecting on the year - just Wow!!! what a plethora of tools and applications have appeared in various guises this year - there have been Beta releases of some interesting and very useful tools for the education community this year.
But I believe that as the year end approaches we really need to critically appraise those which have merit and allow those which do not to quietly leave the stage.

For me in the classroom this year :

Voicethread - comes in at Number 1 - great interactive tool allowing almost synchronous commenting on short slide based podcasts ( Allanah K's class did an excellent Voicethread on Money, money, money which received comments from around the globe). Kids love the immediacy of Voicethread - simple, just upload your pictures and make your slidehow, then add your commentary.

Voki is an application which pupils also love as it allows simple recording along with the ability to chose an avatar to speak your words allowing the anonymity which pupils in Primary classes need.

Skype - has allowed us to chat in class to friends in Europe ( our E-Twinning Group) and across the world in New Zealand... though I must say that Skype is now being caught up by other similar applications.

We have continued to find Audacity the winner over Garageband as a podcasting recorder this year.... sorry Apple! ( Garageband is great for creating media as are the rest of the Apple Mac creative media suite) - personally I wouldn't touch anything other than iMovie for dv film making in school ( Digital Blue - poor relation).

For my personal contacts both keeping for keeping in touch with colleagues globally and CPD ( Continuous Professional Development) :

Twitter has been a revelation this year ( many thanks to Sheryl Nussbaum- Beech for introducing me to it) - just great for short notes to friends and colleagues and also a great place to tell people about what you are doing to drum up an audience.

FlashMeeting - has been excellent as a video conferencing application, I have used it for Global Educators Meetings this year - it has also been used for meetings of the UK based EdTechRoundup Group ( more of this in 2008!!!). It has also been tried out by Sharon Toner as a means of communicating to the Voices of the World Group.

Wiki's - I have used Wikispaces to create a place for students to carry out research on The Tudors - which was really useful as a webquest. there are as they say - other wiki sources out ther PB Wiki to name but one. Wiki's have also been a place for organising meetings with teachers - again through EdTechRoundup.

I have dipped my toe into the murky commercial world of Facebook - great for keeping in touch with friends and colleagues - but I like others worry about the commercial use of our data on Facebook. I have also been looking into the uses of Ustream.TV - this could revolutionise the way key notes are given at conferences - live streaming I believe will eventually become the norm.
I must also put in a word for the K12 Online Conference 2007 feeds ( both audio and video podcasts - subscribe and grab them to your iTunes) - and also my aggregators - Bloglines, Netvibes and more recently Google Reader....
Jing also for a while was a great favourite of mine allowing excellent screen capture with audio for walk throughs of programs.... as was Skitch for a while on the Mac.

Top 2 for 2007
School/Class Use - Voicethread
Teacher Use - Twitter

2008 looks like being just as exciting as many new variants of the above programs appear - with a twist - I hope to make greater use of Google - Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations in 2008 along with video streaming applications for teacher training..... so from Ddraig - Goch - I hope that you receive all you wish for on Tuesday - Happy Holiday and Best Wishes from Wales

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Into the Tardis and away..........

One of the many themes which appeared in my final weeks at CefnFforest Primary School was a distinctive Dr Who link ( it all seemed to stem from my wearing a long dark overcoat to our Christmas do...)
It began with a Dr Who Sonic Screwdriver arriving as a present and was followed by the following ( showing an excellent use of ICT skills from the contributors).Thanks to Helen Balmont for this.......

.... and Jo Watson ( far too good with a digital image!!!!) for this scary offering!

I think that you may well agree there is quite enough IT talent left at Cefn Fforest Primary School without me......

I guess that is the end..... just take the name off the door send the kids home with their Christmas cards and ...............................ah yes ............................into the ( no what's this a Police Box well you just have to don't you, for old times sake ??
It's into the Tardis for me.........................................bye.................................................

'Ones Tube' by Royal Appointment

The world's most media savvy octogenarian has done it again as HM Queen has opened a YouTube Channel found here. This comes along with other news that HMQ also has (and uses) her own personal e-mail, and uses a mobile phone.
Some may say that many of these things are put in place cynically by 'The Palace' for publicity purposes, to get a message out bypassing the traditional media routes.... if this is true - it works, and certainly shows the way for younger generations on how to harness the power of the Read Write web put out a personal point of view to the world - very like geriatric1927 was doing this time last year with his personal reflections.

Well Done Your Maj - Silver Surfers Rule :-)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

End of Term approaches !!!

For the past 19 years the end of term at Cefn Fforest Primary School has been the usual round of Christmas Performances, Parties and Christmas Craft activities.... usually just about leaving the classroom in a decent state for the return in January. Not so this year, yes the Christmas rush is the same, but of course.................. I will not be returning to the school in January, as I will be embarking on a new career and new challenges with the International Baccalureate.
Something that I hadn't expected happened on Monday evening when I was duped into attending a 'Staff Meeting' which was actually a surprise party in our Infant Hall..... gullible .... moi! (yup)
It was absolutely fabulous not only to see current colleagues but also a host of previous colleagues .... to say shocked and stunned would definitely be an overstatement. In my usual naive way I was hoping to make a quiet exit ( I am good at those!). Ha!!! not so lucky. I did my usual getting emotional bit, it really makes one appreciate the friendship that builds up with colleagues over the years.... and yes it is always the cue for the 'stories' to start, and we are no exception - there are events that have become fokelore in and around Cefn Fforest over the years.
Friday afternoon approaches when I will close my classroom door for the final time at CFP, I am not sure how that will feel yet.........

I am very much looking forward to the challenges which lie ahead with the International Baccalaureate, if it comes close to the feeling I had at interview it is going to be an excellent experience. I am looking forward to meeting up with my online buddies at Ewan McIntosh's TeachMeet 08 at BETT on Friday 11th January........ more reflections to come when Friday is over.

This blog will obviously evolve in 2008, however I will still be looking for inspirational products which can enhance teacher's own learning and for tools which can be used within classrooms..... so for now Many Thanks for following the ramblings of the Old Welsh Dragon, I hope still to be of service into 2008 and beyond to the wider edu-blogging community :-)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Veodia - Live Video Streaming

The Live TV Studio In Your Browser™

"Veodia offers the first TV-Quality live broadcasting and publishing Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.

Using MPEG-4 / h.264 technology, Veodia's video broadcasting service makes it easy and inexpensive for businesses, universities, religious institutions, and even professional bloggers to broadcast high-quality live video and digitally archive content for on-demand viewing or podcasting. "
I came across Veodia via a circuitous route, by looking at David Noble's (Booruch Podcast) Links and finding my way the the Thunder Blog..... and a post there for Veodia. Having dabbled in Ustream.TV ( and taking part in a live link up with **Brian Crosby in Reno last week), I am currently interested in the use of live streamed video for teacher Professional Development - particularly looking into it as a delivery method for the follow-up to online training, or even as the medium for the online training.( if you take a look on Ustream.TV, Wes Fryer, Miguel Guhlin, David Jakes and Will Richardson to name drop a few people have all tried live streaming from conferences recently).
I had an immediate response to my joining as one of the Veodia people contacted me with a view to discussing how Veodia could be used in my area of interest. Hopefully with a skype contact there is going to be an interesting conversation to come here..... I'll keep you posted, but do take a look for yourselves..... more interesting educational uses for technology.

** Brian Twittered today about some sad news for him, his classroom was broken into the other night - sounds like some determined criminals as they battered their way in through a protected window - I hope that not too much of the tech stuff that his students has been affected by this disruption - I hope that all is well Brian.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

iPM and the Planet-Scicast

I was rushing home and changing for our staff night out on Saturday afternoon ( the event doubling as my Leaving Party - held by the way at the BBC Restoration Show 2004 runner-up Newbridge Memo)
While in the usual panic searching for socks!!! I was trying to listen to BBC's iPM programme which was covering the Planet Scicast, a site where great video of Science Experiments have been posted
" Eddie Mair spoke to Professor Michael Reiss about Planet Sci-Cast's efforts to popularise science on the internet."
Professor Reiss (Director of Education at the Royal Society and Professor of Science Education at the Institute of Education), in the interview came back to the fact that pupils move from the UK Primary (Elementary) sector to the Secondary (High School) sector being extremely switched on to Science, and that it appears that the teaching of Science at the higher level turns these kids off in their droves - leading to a drop in those taking Science at GCSE, AS and A level in the UK. Professor Reiss believes very much that it is the teaching style adopted in many UK schools which is putting kids off Science, and Planet-Scicast is an attempt to promote and bring back the experimentation into Science. I allows schools, pupils and teachers to submit films of Science in Action which others can then access and use ( a kind of ScienceTube I guess!)... take a look and see what you think!
In another interesting development Chris Vallence told iPM about Arden - a virtual world of William Shakespeare's Richard III.

The Race to the End of Term

I am trying to pack as much new tech stuff as I can into my last few weeks in school. The run up to Christmas is always hectic as we have embarked on, not only our Christmas production (plus rehearsals), fortunately fairly low key this year.... a brief Nativity. We are also hard at work on our Design Technology Project - 'Making Money Containers' QCA Speak - purses and wallets to those who speak plain English. This plus many other of the usual last minute things to do ( ooh must remember our Christmas Cards as well !!!).
I am determined to build in New Technology into some of our curriculum projects also, to this end I began 3 weeks ago with my class of Year 4 pupils ( aged 8-9 ) on the adventure game MYST III - ExileWe are using it as both as a way of exploring an alien environment - making class decisions about our next move. Also we are attempting to describe feelings and our emotions as we explore - the landscape is excellent for descriptive writing ( the sound and graphics - allowing full 360 degree rendering is fabulous - and one of the class bought a copy from E-Bay for £3.95 - seen in shops for £5 - a snip at that price).
Here is a taster video from the Myst people.

I teach our other Year4 class IT on a Thursday afternoon, last week we were unable to get in to use our IT Suite- so spent the session exploring the worlds of Samorost I and Samorost II - it was great fun describing the planets and the main character's space ship ( which looks suspiciously like an old tin can )We had great fun coming up with a name for the little character - we called him Ooze and his dog Oozy, it was an enjoyable session - indeed the time seemed to go so quickly as we were immersed in a strange alien landscape.
** Update - I have just been visiting Dan Plane's Blog and found a glimpse into the future of gaming and simulating worlds which is absolutely mind blowing, and, as Dan says far and away beyond what the UK QCA authorities could ever have had in mind. From the developers of Little Big Planet.....

We have been podcasting quite a bit lately and it was a really positive point for the class to see that we we were at the top of the PodOmatic K12 Education podcasts for a few weeks with the most views ( about 1000 per week) and downloads ( around 70-80 per week) - this is really cool for a school in such an out of the way place as ours in the Welsh Valleys - a big thank you to anyone who downloaded our podcasts. We are also planning to take part in the Voices of the World - December Task ( Sharon Toner's OneVoice Ning project) so ..... a quiet lead in to Christmas - ha, life is never that simple in Primary Education!
As a p.s. - our visiting Kiwi (Cuddly Kiwi) will be climbing into an envelope for his return to Moturoa Class in Nelson, New Zealand very shortly, having had a fabulous 13 months in Wales - he has been very much loved ( and probably needs the rest in the envelope to be truthful!).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Interesting New Tool Yuuguu


"Yuuguu lets you interact with your colleagues and friends as though
they were sat right next to you... no matter where in the world they are"

I have to say thanks to Lee Davis @IBO for the link to Yuuguu ( Japanese for fusion).

"Yuuguu, derived from the Japanese word for fusion, enables users to see, share, and take control of each other’s computer screens and applications. Users can ask anyone to securely share their computer screen in real time, whether they’re on a PC or Mac platform — and without having to download or install any software. Colleagues just need a browser and Internet connection to participate.

Free, easy-to-install, and easy-to-use, Yuuguu can be used by team members working on a project or friends sharing applications. Colleagues and friends can message and chat while they share screens for enhanced collaboration. The platform includes high quality, low cost voice conferencing services for one-to-one and one-to-many voice calls. And Yuuguu’s integrated presence status brings a sense of community to web sharing, as users can see when friends are online and click to invite them."

It will be interesting to see how Yuuguu matches up with the likes of Skype, Elluminate and WiZiq as it appears to fuse both with conference calls and desktop sharing. It is also cross-platform (Mac and PC available), it is also a part British product, based in Manchester.

"Comment from Philip Hemsted Co-Founder of Yuuguu - Hi there - many thanks for the review, I'm Philip one of the Yuuguu founders. We'll be releasing the web share version soon so viewers won't have to download a client to share screens and chat. If you want to have a go let me know and we can have a collaboration session."
This just shows the power of blogging, and yes Philip, I would love to give YUUGUU a go, a collaboration sounds great.... contact needs to be made.

I would like to try it out, so if anyone else in the Edublogosphere wants to have a get together download the program and let's give it a 'test drive'. To do this once, downloaded we will need to invite friends into a network using e-mail.... so let me know.

YUUGUU goes web based so no download or install - Yuuguu WebShare

Sadly now I am 'Mac-less' - I have finally had to take the MacBook back into school for my colleague who is taking over IT when I leave the school in just over 3 weeks. Having been able to directly compare both Mac and PC ( as a lifelong PC based user up to 2006).
I personally would not even try to carry out video/ film making projects on anything other than a Mac - IMovie is so easy to use, and transfering to iDVD very simple, making film projects easy peasy! ( I know having used Win Moviemaker on PC - it doesn't come close to its Mac cousin). I was somewhat underwhelmed with GarageBand for podcasting ( apart from video podcasting which is more practical on Mac) still prefering Audacity on a PC. The Mac operating system while fast and very smooth in operation I still found it quite alien compared with the MS environment, the basic fiddle of having navigation buttons on the opposite side of the screen!

I will certainly miss the Mac as I settle back into using my basic Dell Inspiron... but who knows what the future holds.....?

Friday, November 23, 2007

A thought - To Act or Not To Act ??

On visitng my friend JimPow's blog I came across this YouTube video on the need for action on Climate Change - watch and make your choice....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kingswear Primary School Podcasts get the Seal of Approval'

Kingswear Primary School in Devon have been experimenting with podcasting - using Audacity and posting on podcast hosts Podomatic for a while now, I came across thier recent batch of Halloween Poems which are fantastic. We loved them in class and I felt that they need a further showing to the edublogosphere so take a listen..... definitetly Kingswear Seal of Approval - well done Jo :-)

Click here to get your own player.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stephen Heppell Interview for LTS

An interview with the influential 'Tech Guru', Prof. Stephen Heppell from Journey to Excellence from the Scottish HMIe site from LTS Scotland. This was found thanks to a link from Catherine Naamani a senior lecturer from the University of Glamorgan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cefn Fforest Podcasts are back....

At last in mid-November Cefn Fforest Podcasting from Class 4H is back in action, mainly thanks to Mr H getting himself organised....

Click here to get your own player.

Monday, November 12, 2007

'Spelling it Out' by Maryann Manning

Following my Saturday morning web trawl on teaching spelling, today I came across this article from Maryann Manning, Maryann is in the Education Department of the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

"There are five types of spellers in our classrooms – find out which types you're teaching this year.

Long ago I abandoned the practice of every student studying the same list of spelling words in favor of a more individualized program. My philosophy changed as a result of reading, listening to other teachers and, most of all, seeing that weak students at the beginning of the year were still weak at the end of the year. I wasn't meeting the needs of all students with one spelling list.

My students improved considerably when I moved from a prescribed list to thinking of spelling growth as a function of the reading and writing workshop and other literacy activities. This month, I'd like to share my ideas about teaching spelling....

To read Maryann's main findings go to the full article @ Teaching Pre K-8

Suggestions for parents
We know there are several classroom practices that help all spellers. We can pass this information along to students' parents, and let them know that whenever a student engages in reading, spelling will improve. The same is true of engaging in writing, especially in the writing process when attention shifts from content to mechanics.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Morning Reflection

Good morning world, I have been doing my usual meander through my Bloglines Reader this morning and came across an interesting discussion which is going on regarding ' Spelling and What is the best way to learn '. Over at Education Investigation JLeitze pondered the issue refering to Wes Fryer's recent post "The outboard brain, memory, transfer and learning"
In his article Wes ranged over issues relating to questioning using higher level thinking skills allowing pupils to use technology in a meaningful way ( his example was kids being asked meaningless lower order, unrelated questions as a means of demoralising kids rather than encouraging their higher order skills ), a thought provoking read for all web 2.0 protagonists.
Wes followed by challenging the traditional way of almost old fashioned rote learning of spellings - unrelated word lists as Wes goes on to relate'
"There is virtually NO academic research I read or was exposed to in my masters and doctoral graduate coursework in education which suggests giving students spelling tests of decontextualized words on a weekly basis improves their abilities to spell, read or write. The real skill related to spelling is WRITING, and the best way to improve writing skills (according to the body of literacy research reviewed by Dr. Stephen Krashen of USC in his excellent book, “The Power of Reading, Second Edition: Insights from the Research” is to encourage students to READ prolifically. My son, like his mother, is simply not a speller. His brain is apparently not wired to visually remember the spelling of words, and he’s regularly done poorly on spelling tests. I am absolutely, positively not worried about this. Since this summer when he started reading the Harry Potter books, he has been voraciously consuming literature."
Wes's point regarding reading being the key to spelling reminded me of a podcast from Judy O'Connell in Australia, called Reading at Delany, in which Mr Geoffrey Lee relates his story of a failing kid who wanted had a goal and reached it by becoming a reader, a great listen if you have a few minutes.
As I prepare to leave the classroom in December, I can look over 19 years of development in education, many things have changed, Mathematics has become more investigative as other foundation areas of the curriculum here in the UK, but ( there is always a but!) spelling is still in over 90% of classes in UK schools a list based system, whether this is topic related or word family/ sound related, almost always an unrelated list of words taken out of context - surely in a Web 2.0 world there must be a better way to teach our pupils to spell - is Wes right 'reading is the key to a full lifelong enjoyment and understanding of the written.
It also relates to another article in Education Investigation regarding the use of 21st Century Learning tools - I guess for us all how can we use them to enhance and improve the quality of teaching and learning in our classrooms - I know that Jane Nicholls of ICTUCAN has spent a year carrying out action reasearch in New Zealand as an E-Fellow into how oral language is improved by the use of powerful web 2.0 technologies such as podcasting ( which has a spin off to writing and spelling) - can blogging have a similar effect on the written word ? - discuss :-)

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Visuwords - visual dictionary might be the closest you'll ever get to seeing a neural network in operation- creating synaptic links in order to make an information pathway.

When you enter a word into Visuwords, it creates a graphical abstract of all related terms, and ties them together in a web that you can manipulate. Mousing over a term defines it, and you can drag the terms around, into groups, or stretch the web apart to see how related terms relate to each other. It is, as the kids say, mad cool. You can see it in action at

Thanks to Tom Barrett for the initial information on this in his links.

A New Challenge for Ddraig-Goch

The news of my imminent departure from Cefn Fforest Primary School became official today when all pupils had the information in a termly newsletter.
So, after 19 years teaching in the same school I am branching out into pastures new - my role will be as an Online Workshop Coordinator for the International Baccalaureate, based at Cardiff Gate, north of Cardiff.
I am very much looking forward to the new challenge (who says you can't teach an old Dragon new tricks?? I almost understand how to use Web 2.0 tools!!!!)and also to keeping my contacts with all of the new developments in teaching and learning using new Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools.
I believe that my enthusiasm for using new technology and forging International links both combine very well in my new job - keeping up with new developments in Educational Technology tools and applications is in my job description.
It will also give me the chance to work more closely with teaching colleagues from IB Schools around the world who I have met virtually at online conferences, and in online collaborative projects, in addition to keeping in contact with my spreading Personal Learning Network.

I have to say a great big thank you in advance to Allanah King in New Zealand, it was purely chance which brought us and our 2 schools together in October 2006 - firstly as podcast buddies, then blogging partners and finally as Skype partners... I would like to think that Allanah, myself and both sets of pupils learned in the new way - together collaboratively both teachers and students, and that we have since become good friends - indeed my kids came running to me earlier this week saying "Miss King's online can we reply to her skype message?" , the answer was "Of course you can!!!" ( really no need to ask). Sadly in a few weeks time we will be sending Cuddly Kiwi our link toy back to New Zealand after his year long visit to Wales ( and he still has his voice - just about!). We will try to keep track of Tiny Ted, who we think is still in Alabama with April Chamberlain.

The web 2.0 community is one of the most welcoming and supportive that I have come across in 19 years in teaching - as for professional development - I have learned more in the past 2 years than in the previous 17 put together. The community is a 24 hour one in which any of us is never afraid to ask the 'dumb' question, or to spread good practice which immediately becomes global - I will go with the general feeling that it is becoming a truly 'Flat World' - Durff, the wrinkles are being smoothed out - I know that there is still huge inequality globally but it is shifting there is change ( it was interesting to hear Wes Fryer complain of more blocking of sites in US schools than in Communist China!), parts of the world previously silent are gaining a voice, through dedicated teachers and others ( Mediasnackers for one).

I am also hopeful that Cefn Fforest will continue to develop as an online community through the dedication and enthusiasm of my successor as IT Coordinator - we plan to get blogs up and running for all classes before I leave at the end of December ..... Ddraig-Goch coming to an online workshop near you?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


An interesting meet-up is being planned around BETT next year. Called TeachMeet08, it is a gathering of education technologists, willing to share their experiences and expertise. It is being led by Ewan McIntosh among others.

When and where?

Friday 11th January 2008, Olympia Apex Hall


Entry time - after 6pm you may not get in, although you can leave any time (tbc).


TeachMeet08 5th Edition, London, BETT

Early evening drinks, snacks, innovation


We could reserve tables at Pizza Express (under the venue). Add your name if you want to do this (at your own expense unless a sponsor comes forward).

If you want to sign up, please do so at the supporting wiki: TeachMeet08.

Hope to see you there.

Original Post by Lee Davis

Friday, November 02, 2007


If you're thinking how can we make use of these new technological developments of online collaboration?
Take a look at the Ustream.TV feed from the TechForum 2007 conference held today Friday 2nd November in Austin, Texas with Miguel Guhlin and Wes Fryer discussing the impact of and solutions for CyberBullying using new technologies - interesting stuff - and with 40 people in the room in Texas and up to 25 people taking the live stream in UK, Canada and Melbourne, Australia (3am!! Jo McLeay!) ..... is this the newest way to virtual conference??

Sunday, October 28, 2007

One Way to Teach Poetry

This enterprising pair of teachers have fused Halloween and Harry Potter to help inspire their pupils with their Haiku Poems...... enjoy

..... need I say more ?

EdTechTalk UK Sunday 28th October 8.00GMT

Great to see that here in the UK, Doug Belshaw has taken the plunge in getting the UK involved in Webcasting - I know that this is late notice, but I only cuaght this today following a few days being involved in K12 Online 07 ...... well Mr B and team, I for one look forward to the discussion.

It sounds like John Johnston (Sandaig), David Noble (Booruch) and Kristian Still plus more will be there for edition 1 ( I will only be able to attend if my Sunday evening meal cooks very quickly!!!!)

EdTechTalk-style UK show

Posted By Doug Belshaw On 24th October 2007 @ 19:27 In Ideas | 5 Comments

[1] Ideas

Anyone who’s listened to [2] EdTechTalk, or indeed pretty much any of the shows on the [3] Worldbridges network, will know of the high-quality webcasting and podcasting that goes on there. However, those of us in the UK who listen to the show have to stay up past midnight if we want to listen live… :(

EdTechTalk UK has been mooted in the past, but hasn’t gained any traction due to the issue of time. It takes time to learn how to webcast, time to pull like-minded people together, and ultimately it takes time to record the shows. Last week I proposed via Twitter that a bunch of UK-based people get together to organise an EdTechTalk-style show. It won’t come under the Worldbridges umbrella, but I am very grateful to both Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow for their quick and detailed and thoughtful responses to my questions. :)

What’s involved in being a co-host?

  • Using [4] Skype to join in discussions about weekly/monthly goings-on in the edublogosphere
  • Contributing to a conversation that will last between 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Joining in with planning/maintenance activities (e.g. brainstorming, wiki editing, uploading and linking to MP3 files, etc.)

I’m interested! What should I do?

I’ve already been contacted by [5] David Noble, [6] Kristian Still, [7] John Johnston, and a few others (sorry if I’ve forgotten you!) If you think you may want to take part, express your interest in the comments section below and then join us at 8pm GMT on Sunday 28th October 2007 (remember the clocks go back on Saturday night!) :D

dimdim (beta)

Thanks to Kristian Still for sending this link to DimDim - an opensource meeting application. Following a discussion of the relative merits of FlashMeeting and Elluminate.
dimdim looks like it may be another useful app - test it out and let's see how good it is :)

dimdim includes advanced collaboration features (audio, video, text, desktop sharing, virtual worlds, etc.) so that anyone and everyone can easily and instantly interact with anyone else, without the hassle of having to download and maintain software.

Features dimdim
Upload & Share Presentations
Desktop & Application Sharing
Annotations on collabaration work space (Under development)
Multi User Chat
Polls and Question Manager (Under development)
On Wire Security
Recording & Archiving (Under development)
Scheduling & Reports
Mood Indicator
Skins / Templates (Under development)
Private labelling
Active Directory Integration (Under development)
Outlook & Google Calendar Integration (Under development)
Email based support
Platform Certification
dimdim training
Integration With Learning Management system
Integration with customer relationship management system

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