Thursday, May 17, 2007

Shift Happens

This is a really compelling slideshow - interesting for anyone but especially for teachers. You might want to share it with your class.

This slideshow comes via Slideshare a an online application where you can share slideshows - useful for a class??

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ICT and Challenges #2

We can all take digital photos but everyone can benefit from editing photos before using them. Computers come with simple tools for photo editing, but Web 2.0 has meant you can now edit your photos online for free.

In the sites below you can resize, remove redeye, change the colour and add a huge number of other creative effects. Sometimes it's appropriate to edit them for effect. The photo at the top of the page has been cropped, recoloured and darkened to produce the effects shown. However, even if you only use the rotate, cropping and brighten tool, you'll end up with much better quality photos.

If you take digital photos and don't use an editor, you're only doing half the job.

Digital Photo editing:

How could you make digital photo editing a challenge for your learners? Powerpoint, Photostory 3 and Moviemaker are all tools which can be used for creating a photo story.

Photo stories are really powerful means of persuasion and Moviemaker and Photostory will let you add text, commentary, background music to your digital photos and produce the end result as a video. Have a look at the examples embedded in the 7N Blog and Performing Arts Blog

More on Searching

One of the major issues I have is kids searching for information using a search engine like Google and very general keywords - needle in a haystack stuff - 50 million hits - might as well drop them off outside the National Library on a Saturday evening for all the quality information they will find....

A solution: As well as teaching them to be discriminating and clever searchers, try this: A Google tool which will enable you as the teacher to select which websites Google searches. Got that?
Tell it which websites you want it to search! Easy to set up and place in your Class blog. Remember your class blog doesn't just have to be used for communicating with parents. Use it as a classroom tool as well.

Why wouldn't you do it????

Here's an example: I have put the panel below onto our Climate Change page and also onto the Wellesley Search Page. It will only search the websites on that page. I can continue to add or remove websites from the search engine as I need to. Is this useful? I'd call it essential!

Try it:

Create your own custom search engine here:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

When a Question becomes a Challenge

I like the idea of learning challenges. We used to do technology challenges - things like create a sequence of events which will result in a mouse trap being triggered and a balloon bursting or firing table tennis ball as below. I remember that small groups of children spent lots of time discussing, planning and executing their process.

I guess we don't tend to do this stuff any more because of "curriculum pressure" but I have been thinking about challenges and learning lately. Children often respond well to challenges. Often when I do some work with a class on Logo - a simple maths programming program - I find them in the ICT room at lunch time trying things out ....playing ...experimenting. This is in preference to more sophisticated bells and whistles type games which they could be using at lunch time. What is it about Logo which captures them?
I once set a challenge to design one click Logo bicycle using simple logo commands. Here is one boy's response:

How much time would this code have taken to think about, experiment with and check? Believe me, a lot of time!
Here's the result:

It's the same with something like Google SketchUp. Show children the basics and they will always take it further. Go into the ICT room at lunchtime at the moment end you will find half a dozen children experimenting with SketchUp.

Perhaps we need to include more challenges in everyday learning. Jamie McKenzie encourages questions which set up a challenge with the very nature of the question.

  • What did James Cook get wrong?
  • Was James Cook a good leader?
  • Which is the better city - Wellington or San Francisco?
  • What is the best thing about living in Wellington?
  • How will Helen Clarke be remembered?
  • What makes a good leader?
  • Why do people live at Castlepoint?
  • Should all endangered species be preserved?
  • What is the price of progress?
  • How is a hero different from a celebrity?
  • Why does the rain fall?

Or the challenge of "decoding" an image. Look for an image you can use on Flickr:

What is this all about?
How was it created?
Is there a story behind it?
What does it say?

Creative Commons Originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.

Or a riddle:
What is so fragile that when you say its name you break it?

It amounts to persuading children to leap off the scaffolding - both that provided by teacher support and the "scaffolding" of raw information. Any learner can copy and paste but can any learner use the information to answer a challenging question or resolve a challenge?

In the next few weeks I want to reinforce the ways in which ICT especially can help create think inducing challenges.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Well done all of you who are maintaining your class blogs. They look good especially when they are regularly updated. Wednesday afternoon we will look at blogs if you are having trouble or have any questions.

One of the key parts of the Inquiry Process relates to questioning. This is so critical and difficult to fine tune in the classroom. Andrew does a lot of work with Essential Questions with 78T and Jamie McKenzie deals with questions comprehensively. It's worth revisiting some of his articles:
An index of a large number of questioning articles.

Some useful J McK articles:

And especially the gargoyle article - Christine and Andrew probably remember this:

Socratic Questioning -

And I have ordered a copy of these books:

Another take on essential queations:

Interesting Stuff on the Web:

Well then, who's responsible for global warming on Mars??? If Mars is warming up as well, and there are no humans or motor vehicles on Mars.....
Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake.

Videos for educators: A growing site with downloadable educational videos.

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it: Table tennis but not as we (I) know it!

Using tags in art museums - a new way to find things you're interested in:

Student Art - Sydney: