Thursday, 26 June 2008

Will there ever be an end to exercise books?

I feel like I'm plodding v-e-r-y slowly towards the end of term. We're all counting down the days to the summer holidays and spitting at the very thought that some idiot politician could consider doing away with the long break.

I've made some (very laid-back) plans for next year, generally organisational ones, which lead me onto my pet hate. Exercise books. I hate them so much. They're just awful, limiting, miserable things. The kids complain because handouts fill their books and can't be stored anywhere. They forget to bring them ALL THE TIME. Then they lose the work they do on paper. Paper and pens are a daily annoyance to me and pretty much everyone else I speak to. Surely there's a better way?!?
Well, it turns out that there is. New Line Learning Academy in Kent has been featured on Teachers TV recently:
'Every pupil has been given a portable tablet computer, the school has provided wireless internet access, and has designed a virtual learning environment called Schoolbuk ... the academy has been developing a classroom of the future, with the school hall converted into a high tech Learning Plaza where open plan areas allow students to work in small groups, and an area for whole-class presentations.'
How fantastic is that? Or would they just forget to bring their laptop?
To see the video, go to Teacher TV. And if you have any 'overcoming an irrational fear of exercise books' advice, PLEASE get it touch!!
*Image credit Just_Tom, Flickr.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Does life move too fast in Web 2.0 world?

I'm thinking in particular about here about Edupunk, a term first coined on May 25th 2008, a whole two weeks ago.

I read David Warlick's blog post 'What's this about Edupunk?' on the 28th of May, followed by Doug Belshaw's 'Are you an 'Edupunk'? I'm not' on the 30th, five days after Jim Groom's initial post The Glass Bees. Within as little as three days the term had 'totally caught wind, spreading through the blogosphere like wildfire' (Introducing Edupunk).

So, I've been following it on and off, agreeing with some bits, laughing at others, until I read this post today 'Enough about Edupunk'. Posted today, the 8th June and I agree with a lot of it, especially:

"Good educators have been creating “student-centered, resourceful, teacher- or community-created rather than corporate-sourced” learning experiences for centuries. It is JUST GOOD PRACTICE. Let’s assume we are all well-read, well-versed educators who have studied the theory as well as had the experience. We have all read Piaget, Skinner, Postman, and Montessori. We have been teaching our students (maybe even through trial and error? God forbid!) and we have learned what works best. We know that “hands-on learning that starts with the learner’s interests–and makes them relevant” is the best — whether that includes digital technologies or not. So why do we need to label it something other than what it is already? It is already GOOD PRACTICE. To paraphrase Tina Turner (who definitely was not punk): What’s punk got to do with it?"

Reading 'Enough about Edupunk' would give you the impression that the term has been around for donkey's years when it's only two weeks old!

Regardless of your opinions on Edupunk, it's a perfect example of how sometimes, things appear to be over before they've begun. No wonder I feel so out of touch half the time! I just can't keep up!

Friday, 30 May 2008

Mmmmmmm, social ice-cream

Fits in quite well with our current module 'Media, Culture and Digital Texts'...

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Online identities

During a visit to my in-laws yesterday, I read about Emily Gould in the Independent. A couple of things struck me really. Emily describes how she always found a way to communicate her thoughts to the world and how:

'Some of my blog's readers were my friends in real life, and even the ones who weren't acted like friends when they posted comments or sent me email. Some of them had blogs, too, and I read those and left my own comments. As nerdy and one-dimensional as my relationships with these people were, they were important to me. They made me feel like a part of some kind of community, and that made the giant city I lived in seem smaller and more manageable.'

She also points out that 'the big difference between these youthful indiscretions and my more recent ones is that you can Google my more recent ones. '

Possibly another argument for educating young people in how to navigate the online community spaces that have become so important to many.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008


I don't know about anyone one else, but I love a good mind-map. They're so useful and I'm contantly forcing them on students to TRY to get them to plan. Well, Exploratree may be able to help next time, offering a free online library of thinking-guides. Year 10 are currently blogging and I might get them to plan their final piece using this site and post it online so they can all refer back to it.

And I might use it to write my 'reminders' lists, lol!:

Thursday, 15 May 2008


This week we’re considering the meme over on the MA New Literacies board. Memes are often so much part if Internet culture that you don’t even notice them. Do you forward that daft email or that scary Funwall post automatically? Do you risk the 5/10/20 years of bad luck forecasted if you neglect to send the meme onto the requisite amount of unsuspecting friends? Many blogs consist of replicated items that the blogger has found amusing on their daily stagger around the Internet (see the Geek Hierarchy!).

My current favourite has be to the Hitler series (sorry), particularly 'Hitler is a Meme':

I also love the meme parodies and mashups provided on a regular basis:

(Warning: contains language not really suitable for children!)

Was followed by:

And many more!

In fact, all of this meme-ing reminded me of South Park, who, when it comes to social commentary, often do it for me:

Whew! Think I need to come back to this one tomorrow.

If you want to track the popularity of your favourite meme, Google Trends provides an insight!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Virtual Classroom: Continued!

Today I took the plunge and had my first group of Year 7's in the virtual classroom for a looksee. 7Y3 are a busy bunch but we had the chance to look through a few of the programs including the Medieval Hall, the Whaling Village and Under The Sea (had to stop them diving through the screen to grab the fish) as inspiration for descriptive writing.

The control is like a handheld mouse. To move directions you move the mouse. Simple. But not as simple as it looks! However, everything went swimmingly (haha) once I handed over the controls to the 11-12 year olds I was attempting to indoctrinate into the joys of writing to describe. "Years of computer games", I told myself. Or maybe they were just better at it than me.

Anyway, the response was pretty good, even from the initially blase ("Can't we walk IN it Miss?". Umm, no, not quite up to Holodeck standards yet, soz honey). Word spread around the school like wildfire and my second Year 7 group wanted to know when they were going by the next period. So we're going again tomorrow! Yay!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Cultural Activities

We're now well into Module 3 on the MA New Literacies: Media, Culture and Digital Texts. The discussions have been fantastic. One of the most amazing things for me is how our different cultural backgrounds have made the exchange of views a richer experience. It's one of the things I love about the fact that the course is online.

During a recent conversation about popular culture and who is responsible for it (!?!) Jackie mentioned The Sandpit, a 'monthly playtesting night for Hide and Seek' as an example of a popular cultural activity that has been built up by a community.

Do you think this counts: Neg's Urban Sports? Sorry, it IS Sunday morning!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Time Wasters

Me in particular. And the people who forced Stumble Upon and Digg on me are to blame. I wonder how many work hours around the globe have been lost because of these sites?

Only kidding, I love them both and think they often counteract the media's influence on popular culture, a prime topic of conversation at present on the MA New Literacies.

Stumble Upon and Digg are part of a global popularity contest, but they also allow content that has been parodied, developed or altered, along with works without the backing of huge organisations to be displayed and promoted in the online community: a free, open method that hasn't really existed before now.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Looking at books...

Has anyone seen this guy's site? Dave Werner's Portfolio

The part that I found really facinating was Cadence of Seasons. It just sounds fantastic! How many reluctant readers would be drawn in by something so stimulating?

On a slightly different tangent, I really want a Sony Reader! They are just brilliant - why aren't they avaliable in the UK?!?

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Virtual Classrooms

I visited our school's new virtual classroom today - wow! The possibilities are endless and the students will LOVE it.

The classroom uses a 'Portable 3D Steroscopic System' produced by Amazing Interactives. It includes 3D filming so students can create their own Steroscopic films and interactive 3D Mindmapping Systems for books and plays - we looked through the 'Of Mice and Men' map: fantastic.

Although some software is avaliable and is being developed, there appears to be tons of VRML models avaliable online. God bless the internet.

The potential is endless. I plan on dragging my Year 7's into the Elven Forest next week to continue our work on storytelling ..... I can feel a Lord of the Ring moment coming on ....