Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring Has Arrived - at last...

We have been waiting in Wales through the long dark nights of Winter, for the Spring to finally start. Just recently we have been able to get out into the garden without needing a coat!!!! Earlier this week following an early return from school, it was still sunny and wam enough in my garden to get some photographs of early Spring flowers in bloom...

** Easter Break Approaches **
Our school Easter Break began today Friday 30th March, we spent some of today making our Easter Cards, we hope that you will enjoy them... ( we enjoyed making them )

Monday, March 26, 2007

Here's an interesting idea that has just come to my notice - a site called Teachers Tube , which seems to be a safe YouTube for education. I had a quick look and intend to sign up later. I will attempt to embed one of the videos that I just checked out on 'The Cartesian Diver'.

This may be a way in which education can embrace the 'YouTube' world.
Many thanks to John at Sandaig Primary for the link - see John's page on my blogroll ( right).
Take a look...

**TINY TED travels to the United States of America**
Having had an absolutely fabulous time with his friends in Moturoa Class at Appleby School in New Zealand, the time has come for Mr TT to move on ( much to the pupils disapproval). A mutual friend Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach visited New Zealand recently on a lecture tour giving keynote speeches at the TUANZ conferences which took place across the country.
Sheryl visited Nelson and met up with Cefn Fforest's Number 1 person in New Zealand - Allanah King, and the handover was eventually done.
Ted then joined Sheryl and her daughter on the rest of their journey, followed by the long haul journey back to Virginia Beach, Virginia in the United States. He is now settling into his new environment and is looking forward to meeting lots of students and teachers in the USA over the next few months, and we look forward to his future travel reports.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

** New Zealand - is it the centre of the Web 2.0 world in 2007**

It would appear that New Zealand is fast becoming the centre of the New Technology universe, they have had 2 major IT Conferences this year so far - most recently the TUANZ which is still going on across the country having started in Invercargill ( South Island ) on 12th March - ICTUCAN territory, and most recently stopping of in Nelson, before heading off to other locations across the country ending in Whangarei on 28th March ** check out the wiki for details**.
Where Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach was the keynote speaker - Here is Sheryl delivering her Keynote Speech in Nelson on Friday 16th March - much enjoyed by those who heard it, as usual with one of the innovators of Web 2.0 giving pointers to educators thinking towards the use on these tools in our schols and colleges.

Sheryl has become a firm friend of a fellow blogger and podcaster of mine Allanah King, who had the pleasure of showing Sheryl and her daughter some of the sites of Nelson which I am sure was enjoyed by all.
Sheryl has also become the 'keeper' of a small bear called ' Tiny Ted', he is travelling around the world looking at how schools and pupils are working towards their 'Green Agenda'. Tiny Ted will be travelling to the United States hopefully to meet up with enthusiastic groups of pupils and teachers.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What a Brilliant Day ( not at the office)

IT Room at ESIS Ty Dysgu Nantgarw Friday 16th March

I had been asked to present at our local authority training day for Primary IT Co-ordinators ( 22 fellow teachers - scary !!!!). My topic was 'Podcasting' so I was playing on familiar ground.
I was presenting after some professionals ( a 2simple software rep and a very kind Espresso rep Heather Carter) so it became more nerve wracking ( plus the pressure of speaking in front of colleagues!!). This was to become more pressured as my laptop decided to freeze ( holding my Powerpoint presentation and my iTunes link with sample podcasts), nothing would persuade it to work!!!!.
I began to think that as they say 'Houston we have a problem!!!' When into the breach stepped Heather the rep from Espresso ( to whom I have to say a huge thank you for her help - plus I must promise to let Heather come to school to demonstrate Esspresso for us ). Heather allowed me to use her laptop which runs Powerpoint, Skype and an internet link - Thank you Heather.
We managed to get through to Allanah King via Skype in New Zealand who discussed her pupils use of, and enthusiasm for Podcasting which worked like a dream ( thanks to Allanah for staying up until 1 a.m. to talk with us ).
It seemed to go well and there was a good discussion after the sessions with a few teachers who just may begin to find their way into podcasting.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Our European friends have joined the world of podcasting as Daniela has produced her first podcast on Podomatic

It is a video-podcast of their school orchestra playing the European Anthem ( Ode to Joy ) give it a listen and don't forget to leave Daniela a comment...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Collaborative Project Update

We have recently developed a link with Kenmore Park First School in Kenton, North London. As part of our link discussions we discussed collaborating on a Design Technology Project for Year 3 pupils called Moving Monsters. We have produced some areas on the internet where our pupils joint planning, designing and making can be shown one of these is a wiki we also have a weblog which we hope to develop over the next few weeks... watch this space....

World Book Week

As part of Cefn Fforest Primary School's celebration of World Book Day ( Week )we had a variety of activities in school ranging from a 'Book Fair' and book related lessons ( book cover designs and book reviews). Included were visits to school by authors and illustrators ( some organised by our local School Library Service, and some through school contacts ).
To finish the week of activities on Friday 9th March Jan Woodward and Kath Jenkins visited school to talk to our Year 3 pupils about their new book 'Five Fairies go on Holiday' which has just been published and is available through
We managed to podcast the question and answer session.

Click here to get your own player.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

To all educational bloggers using Blogger itself there is a way to get rid of the banner headline which contains the icon for next blog ( this allows any viewer of your blog to click onto a randomly selected next blog - not a good idea in an educational setting ) Allanah king on her blog 'life is a race not to be first finished' has some very interesting snippets of advice including the code needed to get rid of this banner. There are also links to Allanah's work on 'Adding Bling to your Blog' do take a look and let Allanah know what you think.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Today Friday 9th March was a day that my European partners in Italy, Estonia and The Czech Republic had planned for a week or so - we had arranged to take part in a Skype Conference Call at 9.30am (UK). This needed a bit of re-arrangement in Cefn Fforest as we had to miss a special Merit Assembly in order to be in class for the 'Phone Call'. On checking I found that all of our friends were online however Killi in Estonia appeared to be going off-line occasionally. Just after 9.30 the call came from Daniela in Lazio, we had a chat while she tried to contact Estonia - however all Kylli managed to say was 'Hello!' then her link disappeared. We were quite frustrated in Wales when we could just see our friends briefly before we lost the signal!!!
We called Allanah King in New Zealand in the meantime in order to check that the fault wasn't with our link - we could talk to NZ over 13,000 miles pefectly, however our European link was still poor.
We did however manage to re-contact Daniela and we sang some of our favourite songs to Daniela who was very pleased by our singing. We finished chatting with Daniela and then settled back to work ( spelling test !!!!!)
Luckily for the pupils Killi seemed determined to get through to us, and we both tried several times to link. It was at around 10.15am that Estonia finally made a good contact - We could see our friends in their classroom in Estonia (Hurray!!!)- sadly they couldn't see us but we soldiered on and sang songs to each other, ours in English and Welsh and theirs in Englih and Estonian it was great fun, my pupils certainly enjoyed singing and listening to their new friends. They asked us about our weather- wondering whether we still had our snow, their snow is still on the ground however temperatures in Estonia were above freezing for the first time over their winter today and their snow began to melt a little. ( they still have plenty of snow though ).
We found out also that they begin school at 8.00am, have their lunch at 11.00am and go home at 1.00pm, they do have some after-school sports clubs however most students go home then.
We concluded our chat just as our playtime bell rang, agreeing to talk again on Monday 12th March at around 9.30am (UK). On Tuesday 13th we hope to contact Irena's class in the Czech Republic as part of a Conference Call with the help of Daniela.
A very busy Friday indeed, topped off by the visit of Jan Woodward an author who has just published her first book 'The Five Fairies go on holiday' which can be found at Amazon illustrated by Jan's colleague, and our Local Police Liason Officer ( more on a podcast coming very soon)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

With the added problem at the moment of having to keep any eye on at least 3 time zones ( 2 European plus New Zealand ) - I have decided it is high 'time' we had a visual way in which to keep an eye on Time itself in addition to placing our new friends on a map so that we can picture where they are. This is the start of our display on our New European Projects, we are engaged in 2 - one which has been running for some time and a brand new project being run jointly by ourselves and a school in Nerviano near Milan, Italy ( not on the map yet !!! )
Hey great news from Cefn Fforest Primary School - we have a new class blogging - Mrs Prescott my colleague in Year 3 has just joined the blogosphere and would love some comments - so go ahead guys make their day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I hope that this will be the first of many classes that I can encourage into the fabulous world of Web 2.0 ... watch this space.
( message sent from Class 3H Cefn Fforest Primary School 12.10pm Thursday 8th March)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lunar eclipse in action - here in the UK with beautifully clear night skies ( for a change )starting at around 9.15pm. Gradually the shadow of the Earth is gradually working its way across the surface of the moon.

You can't see the reddish glow which was still present at totality on the podcast below, but it does give a short sequence as the eclipse was happening.

Another thought provoking YouTube video is 'Animal School'

This link came from a discussion in TappedIn an online discussion forum set up by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach for Web 2.0 mentors and a group of postgraduate teachers at William and Mary College in Virginia. It also makes one think deeply about the stereotypical pupils we all have in our classrooms and how much the input we have with these pupils can perpetuate their future in education and life... enjoy.

This video shows very clearly how strange a 'new technology' can seem to those who are not in the first wave of using it. It should strike home to all of us involved in using Web 2.0 tools with colleagues!!!! Thanks to Jane Nicholls at ICTUCAN for the link.
**Revision to post Joe Dale's FlashMeeting session will start at 8.00GMT to allow more people to take part **

E-Twinning seems to be quite in vogue at the moment and we at Cefn Fforest Primary are flying the flag for Wales in Europe with the 2 projects with which we are involved.
Joe Dale a blogging and skype buddy of ours had the opportunity to visit the recent E-Twinning Conference in Brussels - along with people such as Ewan McIntosh, Jeff Howson (follow the link to projects and e-twinning) and Stephen Heppell amongst of course many others from around Europe. As Joe said ' it really brings home to you what E-Twinning is all about when you visit these events and see the networking of teachers from across the Community.
Joe managed to get an interview with Jeff and his colleague John Warwick on FlashMeeting
which is an excellent means of videoconferencing between schools in Europe ( I particularly recommend it for my partners around Europe to try it out). Unlike Skype which is well known to me, FlashMeeting does not require any software to be downloaded you simply make sure that you have your webcam and microphone set up and log on to the system and join your discussion area ( the administrator pre-books the time and likely number of participants). All schools who have joined the e-twinning webzone from the UK has automatically be allocated a FlashMeeting account, a fact not widely appreciated as far as I am aware.
In order to promote the use of FlashMeeting specifically amongst the MFL community Joe has organised a FlashMeeting get together online on March 8th at 7.00 GMT with the Theme 'Blogging and Podcasting: Creative and personalised ways of engaging and extending your pupils in the Modern Foreign Languages classroom' he has given a link to visit just prior to the start of the hour long session. It will be an excellent way for some of us novices to check out the potential of FlashMeeting in our European Projects... see you there on Thursday!!!!
Why not take a look at Joe's other thought s by following the links on the sidebar to Joe's blog site.

Moving on from my photographic disaster - by the way many thanks for the comments Allanah and Daniela, it is a cautionary tale and something that any of us can easily overlook. I will be asking other staff for some general pictures of all of our pupils in their National Costume - the one good shot saved was a shot of our 'Chocolate Fish' from New Zealand prior to them being given to our ClassBlogmeister bloggers.
Unfortunately technology has bitten back this week. On St David's Day (March 1st) I had a fab day taking many many photographs of pupils in National Costumes and of us playing and performing on the day. In the evening I began to download the photographs to the Apple MacBook - then DISASTER!!!, I hadn't noticed how low the cameras battery was, it ran out giving me a warning message about loss of data. I had to wait then until the following morning when my batteries had recharged before I was able to check out what had happened, sure enough -the camera said that the xd card required formatting!!!!! in doing so it cleared the card - ALL PHOTOGRAPHS NOW GONE. All of the work of the day before is now lost, I was devastated and will now have to gather images from other members of staff - Technology Bites Back : (

A dear friend

It seems very apt to be writing this blog post in tribute to a dear, dear friend. The world has lost a true global educational  IT innovator...