Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Class Blogmeister Bloggers from Cefn Fforest Primary

We have just started using Class Blogmeister which is an educational blogging community run by David Warlick's Learning Project. Our main blogspace has become a hive of activity for my kids, I know that it is something new and is bound to have an immediate take up which will slow down - but at present I have pupils in my class begging for 'computer time' during their playtimes and lunchtimes in order to blog ( we have over 12 bloggers now). I have suggested that our now experienced 'bloggers' assist the less able ( and those who don't have a computer at home ) to get 'blogging'
As World Book Day approaches I have set the task for my class to blog about their favourite books - so watch this space for more reports on the Class 3H bloggers - do put some comments on their work they will be really pleased to get comments ( Thanks Miss K your comments have really boosted the bloggers confidence in what they are doing ).
Well done to the Cefn Fforest Year 3 Bloggers.
**An Amazing Conversation**

All was excitement in Class 3H at Cefn Fforest Primary School this morning. We had pre-arranged a video-conference between Class 3H Cefn Fforest, Mrs Kaasik's Class at Killi Gynmasium School Estonia and our E-Twinning Co-ordinator Daniela in Lazio Rome. The conversation was planned for 9am (UK time) which is 11am in Estonia and 10am in Italy.
Mr H arrived in class at 8.20am to set everything up - all seemed fine the PC started up and Skype opened. ( story we have just had a new-ish win XP installed in our classroom) Just to ensure that everything was working I attached a microphone to the system and set-up the speakers. Then I tried out the microphone ( it recorded in MS Sound Recorder) but in Skype I had no audio pick-up at all - by now it was 8.45am ( and panic began to set in) I went through the system and a sister computer quickly but could not get any audio at all. I was finally admitting defeat and frantically Instant Messaging my colleagues around Europe explaining our position...
At 9.10 we finally gave up, leaving Skype running, the children went into assembly. At 9.20 the Skype phone rang it was Estonia calling complete with video - I could see the pupils in their classroom in Estonia where they were actually in a maths lesson, the pupils said their 'Hello's' and sang in english their 'Hello Song' ( no Skype recording sadly!!!). We lost connection just as my pupils returned from assembly.
We then had a few minutes in class where we weren't really sure what was happening - followed by a conference call where Daniela rang ( Estonia were already online). My children introduced themselves to each other in song - they repeated the 'Hello Song' and we sang a Welsh Folksong back. The pupils applauded each other and said their welcomes. Daniela dropped out of the conversation in order to allow Killi to contact us with Video enabled - it worked and we were able to see our friends in their classroom - you can just imagine the excitement of actually seeing and hearing their pals in Estonia. It was great fun, we chatted for a few minutes and then went our own way - we went off to learn some simple Estonian phrases for our next conversation ( I guess the Estonians went back to their maths lesson).
I chatted later with Killi in Estonia and we have agreed to talk again next week. ( we have to get our microphone and webcam sorted out in the meantime). We can't wait!!!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Allanah meets and greets David in Rotorua

Listening Live to David Warlick via skype over the internet how cool is that. Allanah King has her laptop at a workshop on RSS being given by David Warlick in New Zealand at this very moment.

David's talk ranges over a variety of Web 2.0 technology and how relevant it is to teachers. He discusses the use of copying RSS feeds into aggregators in order to take the 'leg work'out of keeping your links up to date. He also talks about 'tagging' of blog entries and flickr photosets.
I hope that David will not think it too much of a liberty for me to podcast the part of his talk that I managed to listen to - fascinating stuff ( it was almost like being there in person !!!) enjoy...

I have now had some time to reflect on what happened last night, and it is quite an amazing story to me as I come to terms with the 'flat earth' concept.
I had carried out a skype conversation live with Allanah King while she was talking to teachers about the global aspect of podcasting which in itself is quite a feat of technology that would have entailed a huge amount of pre-planning just a few short years ago. The conference called Learning@School wa taking place in Rotorua in the North Island of New Zealand ( about 13,000 miles away!!).
The following evening while I was sat partly watching the television and partly updating some blogs on my laptop ( with Skype on of course ) it was around 9.15pm. I had a Skype IM from Allanah who asked ' I am sitting in David Warlick's talk on the use of RSS in aggregating, would you like to hear what he has to say?'
The answer of course was 'YES PLEASE!!' - seconds later the Skype Phone rang and I was listening to David in the lecture room 13,000 miles away! I could also hear people around Allanah which is really weird like actually being there !! Sadly no Video ( but you can't have everything) Another message ' would you like to move closer in order to hear better?' To which the answer again was 'Yes please!'
Now being so far away I will have to imagine the rest of the story - I can see Allanah calmly placing her laptop on the platform in front of David!!!! What I have since heard is that David could actually see me ( my video on ) while he was presenting ( I was looking very studious honest and taking notes (and dressed!!!) He was also fascinated by Allanah's screensaver as it kicked in.
I have always wanted to have the opportunity of listening to David speak so you can imagine my enjoyment of 'almost' being there as he was inspiring the educators in New Zealand with his Virginia 'twang'. I was only disappointed when sadly the battery on the laptop gave out before the end - I have to imagine the bits I missed, but the time I had listening was quite something -
Thank you very much Allanah and David for the experience.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Welsh Folk Dance ( Y Delyn Newydd - The New Harp)

If you follow the link above you will see the first of what we hope will be a series of videopodcasts. This is a walk-through of the dance for which you will need your pupils in sets of 4 couples in a line with partners next to each other ( boy have the girl on your right hand side ). We hope that you will enjoy Part 1 ( do leave us a comment if you find it useful ) hopefully we will podcast the music next week for you to have a go for your self.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cuddly Kiwi spent some time today supporting Class 3H in an indoor hockey final against Mrs Prescott's Class - Class 3H by 1 - 0
** Flickr Group**
I recently joined a Flickr Group called 'School Photo a Day' . The group has been organised by teachers (17 in the group so far - do join in teachers out there )with the aim of spreading the creative use of digital photography in schools.
Each week a focus is selected - teachers around the globe then upload and post their photo's on the set theme. Week 1 was based around 'out of lesson time - playtime etc'... Week 2 is currently still running with the theme of 'pens' .
This is an interesting way to get pupils to engage with technology and also an excellent way to see how pupils work and spend their leisure time in other countries around the world.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Above is a copy of the e-twinning label that has been given for the project set up by Caterina Canovi at Nerviano near Milan in Italy. The project is set to run for 1-2 years and is specifically to give our pupils the chance to learn how others live within the European Community. We are looking forward very much to sharing our experiences with our new friends.

We have also been accepted recently into partnership with another group of schools ( 12 schools across Europe) - this group has been set up by Daniela Lucci Cordisco in Lazio Rome and Killi Kaaluk in Estonia to study how children in Europe play and live in the European Community. We have already posted work to the project's web page
We hope to make good contributions to this group and to become good friends with our partners.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Testing out a new site discovered thanks to Darren Kuropatwa in Canada, when I was browsing educational blogs( linked from Terry Freedman's ICT in Education )- Darren had posted to his blog using the site. I thought it was worth trying out to see what the result quality was like - as they say the proof of the pudding.... The site allows you to enter text plus things like Flickr Photo's and even YouTube videos to multiple blogs at the same time - should you have the need to - check it out I did.

**Class Blogmeister Account**
Following our troubles with trying to get blogs up and running in school. We have tried out a few including learnerblogs, all have given us problems in uploading or access, we have finally managed to get our Blogmeister account for the school up and running. My hope now once we have got some blogging going that I can use this to encourage others in my school to join the blogosphere. We have had some success already as one of the pupils who has taken our friend cuddly Kiwi home has managed to blog about it - all I have to do now is put a photostream together to show off Leanne's work...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Some interesting Web 2.0 Tools reviewed
1) Slide.com - I came across this great piece of software quite by accident ( which is often the case!). I have recently joined a couple of E-Twinning Projects , and the main administrator, a teacher from Italy uses slide.com to showcase photographs of her pupils at work.
I completed the simple registration process and began, the upload process is a little slow ( perhaps my impatience!!). Once you have uploaded your images, there are a variety of different slide show combinations to choose from, with some extras to add that bit of bling to your show!
Once you save your slide show it generates the code which you can then copy and paste into your blog post ( there is a short guide to help with this process should you need it.
All in all I personally found this an easy and rewarding piece of software to use.

2) The link to FON came via Ewan McIntosh's blog report. FON is social web based community ( many thanks for note Ewan) . When you join FON €29.95 you will be sent their 'social router', this is a 54Mbps router which receives 2 network signals ( 1 public and 1 private encoded)
*** However as Ewan's Comment states - at present they have ***2500 FREE*** which can be received when a friend (FONero) invites you to join the community.

Starting December 21st Foneros in Europe and the USA can invite their friends to join FON and receive a free La Fonera! If you have an active Access Point you are eligible to participate in our “Fonero Gets Fonero” campaign.

Martin Varsavsky, founder and CEO of FON, regards the "Fonero gets Fonero" campaign as a gift to the Community:

"It is Christmas time and we want to thank our loyal FONeros and reward their trust and commitment by offering them the opportunity to give new community members a Christmas present. At the same time, it is they who decide which friends they most want to surf with. In this way, they enlarge the community with FONspots in sought-after locations."

It’s easy and your friends get a La Fonera mailed to them free!
Click here for details!

Update: In Europe you will receive 1 invite at a time. When your friend activates La Fonera your next invite will appear!" from the FONera blog December 2006

The whole idea is that the socially aware owner will agree to share his open signal with other members of the FON community, there are 3 categories of FONero.
a)Linuses - FON router sharers who can make free use of any other FON router they come within range of
b) Aliens - FONero's who choose not to share and as a result pay €3per day access to any other FON router.
c) Bills - these are business users whose aim is to make money from their FON access points ( they receive 50% of the money that 'Aliens' spend at their access point. They are also able to advertise on their access point homepage.
The idea is that as the FONero network grows free wireless access will be available to users. This will be very useful in major urban centres. I am not sure how it will go in rural areas, I checked on the FONero Map of my local area- there is a FONero in Abergavenny, but only one.
Another problem which I know they have plans to sort out is that it is at present for windows users only ( not mac compatible yet!!- oh YES they are!!!.
** alterations just go to show that the web2.0 community is alive and on the case apologies for inaccuracies - they also mean that it is something that I will now certainly consider - as I am such a fan of FREE!!!

Join the FON movement!

The field of Web 2.0 software grows weekly, but if you keep your ear to the ground and are willing to try a tool out there are still nuggets to be found.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Day 2 of the Great Snow!!
Today the majority of staff managed to battle the weather and make it into school this morning. I arrived at about 8.45am and was the last teacher to arrive (17 miles of snowy hills and valleys!!). School was closed to pupils today, and the staff spent a few hours catching up on Staff Meeting business before we closed the school at 11.00am. I managed to take some quick photographs around the school before beginning the journey home. ( I finally arrived home on foot at 2.30pm having left my car at the bottom of our hill which was only passable in a 4x4 today). As I thaw out I thought I had better post these pictures...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Calling Tom Barrett - if any of our blogging friends read this post could you please ask Tom to contact me either by e-mail or skype. I have been frustrated with the Wordpress Comments section on his blog and I can't leave comments - I wanted to link up with his Year 3 Bloggers and Skype chats but have found contact impossible and very very frustrating - so pretty, pretty please can anyone help out!!!
You see Wales can look beautiful in the snow!!

Following the cancellation of school today, my daughter and I decided to take a walk around the back of our house, down through the woods to our local village - we aimed to be the first to walk on the new snow...


Wales woke up to 3-8 inches of snow this morning ( it was forecast so we were ready with our boots and shovels ). Schools began to close from 6.30am this morning and it was 7.45am when my Headteacher rang to let teachers know that they shouldn't travel - we are working from home today ( so I will be out taking more photographs of the snow ( and working honest!!!!)
Here are some early pictures of the views around my house this morning ( not as impressive as Chris Harbeck's snow I know ).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I don't think that any teacher/education professional could find any greater advert for the effective use of skype in the classroom than this inspirational footage from Brian Crosby's 4th Grade Class in Nevada.

"Here is a moving example of how web 2.0 technologies can transform everything we have ever assumed about how education must happen. From Brian Crosby, a blogging 4th grade teacher in Nevada, comes a short video documenting the classroom inclusion (via Skype) of a child who cannot leave home because of leukemia.

Simply amazing." from ClassBlogmeister.com

Monday, February 05, 2007

** Skype contact made with Italy**

It was great at lunchtime today I made skype contact with Daniela in Rome (Lazio). Daniela is the co-ordinator for an e-twinning project about the way in which our children play and the toys, that they play with. Daniela had been having a skype conversation with another partner in the project Kylli in Estonia. It is still amazing to me that sitting in my own classroom my pupils and I can talk to people around the globe.

Before speaking to Daniela I had a chat with Allanah King in New Zealand and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach in Virginia Beach, USA - and all without moving from my chair.
Daniela and I went on to try a skype phone call - unfortunately the link to Italy or our IT equipment was not good today and we had a great deal of echo on the line, we plan to try again on Tuesday of this week.

A podcast of my discussion with Daniela on Tuesday evening.
Many thanks to Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach who has invited a group of committed users of web 2.0 technology in education to act as e-learning mentors for a group of student teachers that she tutors at William and Mary University in Virginia.

I certainly feel honoured to be invited to join the group which includes many bloggers and podcasters that I hold in high regard such as Bud the Teacher, Jeff Utecht, Vinnie Vrotny and Allanah King among others.

I am sure that the enthusiastic input from the 'experts' from around the globe can only enhance the experiences of this group of students.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

These are some shots of my Class as they completed their pictures of themselves- for our link partners around Europe. We really enjoyed the task, thank you to Daniela and her friends around the EU.

Friday, February 02, 2007

We had a brilliant afternoon on Thursday when we drew pictures of ourselves as part of our new link with schools in Europe.
** E-Twinning Project**
We now appear to have been invited to join a cross Europe project run by a teacher in Rome.
The project involves posting information about our pupils - the bubbleshare file is an example of the work we will be posting to our host's site.

** Sadly due to my inability to manipulate HTML the bubbleshare file appears at the bottom of this page near my sitemeter *** Sorry it's an age thing, the little grey cells not working well on a Friday evening.

News update - using Slide.com and the snippet of code given there I can now post in the main body of the blog - RESULT !!!!

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