Category Archives: challenges

“Let’s Stop Bullying” – the student voice!

Earlier on this year it was National Action Day against Bullying and Violence

In ICT, Year 7 students were to watch a couple of pertinent videos and discuss bullying. However, based on past experience, only a few students will speak up and the majority will usually remain silent. It was decided to book a virtual classroom in blackboard collaborate where each student could (and did) use the backchannel and the whiteboard to share their experiences, feelings and question. The following questions were posed:

  • What is bullying?
  • What does bullying look like?
  • Where does bullying occur?
  • How does bullying feel?
  • Do you feel safe at school?
  • How can we make school safe?
  • What can you do if you are being bullied
What does a bully look like?

What does a bully look like?

Where does bullying occur?

Where does bullying occur?

How does bullying feel?

How does bullying feel?

At the conclusion of the virtual discussion, the girls approached me and wanted to create a video on “Bullying is not good”. Within a short period of time, the girls, using the discussion pointers and outcomes, put together a movie using MS MovieMaker. This video was later shared the year 9/10 girls health class.

A month or so later, I was alerted to a tweet by Gail Desler, an early online colleague of mine.

Gail Desler and Natalie Bernasconi co-curate the Digi-ID challenge. It was decided to participate in this opportunity and the deadline was extended for a few days so we could be involved. The year 7 girls modified their movie so their faces were no longer showing. Students in Girls Health subject were also encouraged to contribute to this Digi Citizenship project in a short, tight time frame. Below are the final results – 2 interesting videos against bullying, from student perspectives.

Why this worked well?

  • giving every student a voice in a backchannel and on an interactive whiteboard
  • having an authentic project to get involved in.

Getting to Know You MEME – Taking up the challenge

A special colleague, Theresa Allen, has tagged me in a meme. These are rather fun and a great way to get to know bloggers further.

Here’s how It Works:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I initially wanted to be an air hostess. (Just as well  I didn’t as I can get really airsick especially when landing!)
  2. As I completed a commerce degree it was assumed I could teach typewriting (I had no idea how to type and had to teach myself fast!).  Then it was assumed I could teach computers. When I walked into that classroom of eager year 9 student computer users, it was the first time that I had seen a computer – commodore 64s!  I have always had to learn with the students.
  3. I love using technology and its use. Half my immediate family live overseas, so it is used intensively to keep up to date – viber, skype, email, facebook etc
  4. Twenty years ago, I fell of a bicycle, suffered severe concussion which has caused some memory loss, continued neck problems and made it difficult for me to do any heavy work in the garden – a hobby I love!
  5. I am really impatient in supermarket queues!
  6. I enjoy playing the piano and was musical director of many school musicals in years gone by including Grease, Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat
  7. Living in an area where there are four seasons, gives me a lot of satisfaction – swimming in the sea (the Great Southern Ocean) in summer, watching the autumn leaves fall and often enjoying an Indian summer, sitting by our wood fires in winter, reading a book or working on my computer and enjoying the freshness of spring.
  8. My husband and I have four children – Jonathan, an engineer, living in Johannesburg, South Africa; Jason, assistant headmaster in a secondary school in London; Katherine, a landscape designer and James, a property valuer. Although I miss the two sons dearly, I like them living in two very ‘travellable and beautiful’ countries – London, UK and Johannesburg, South Africa. Great excuses for annual travelling! Travel is one of my passions but I have no desire to go to Antarctica or outer space!
  9. Roast lamb with roast vegies is my favourite meal.
  10. I love teaching, learning and try different things. Teaching with technology brings risk taking, impulse learning, teachable moments, a wonderful global network and I love seeing the growth in students over each year.

My answers to Theresa’s 11 questions:-

  1. If you could choose just one thing to change about the world, what would it be? Erase poverty – allowing all global citizens access to sufficient food, the right to education,  satisfying work etc
  2. Should people care more about doing the right thing, or doing things right? Why?  I prefer  the notion of “to do the right thing” or as far as is humanly possible as that will engender harmony, empathy and a peaceful existence. I often wish that I could do things right, but because I do make so many mistakes, I am continually learning and it will be the same for others.
  3. What things hold you back from doing the things that you really want to? Money! Always money. I love travelling, need to rennovate our home, would like a new car and a caravan etc but I shall keep on saving!
  4. What was/is your favorite class in college/university?  Why? Economic geography at Melbourne university was my favourite class. It was a really innovative subject for its time (early 1970’s) as it was individualized  learning. We would select our own times each week, sit down at a correll, listen to the recorded lecture and view the slides and photos (these were the days before computers)! Japan was the major country of study and it was fascinating way to learn rather than sit in huge lecture theatres and listen to a lecturer.
  5. What makes you, you? As an Aussie, I am easy going, love my family and friends,enjoy learning and living,have a good sense of humour, like the outdoors and socializing.
  6. What makes a good friend? Someone who is loyal, communicative, sociable, kind, caring and genuine.
  7. What is an important thing people should know about educators? That teaching is one very special profession and should be at the top or near the top of any respected professionals list.
  8. What is your favourite grade to teach?  Why? I love teaching secondary students, especially the year 12 students (approx 18 year olds). They can be reasoned with, are mature, show a greater desire to achieve well at school, will take on responsibilities and are ready to be prepared for the world of work.
  9. Who/what inspired you to be who you want to be or are today? My parents, especially my mother. Mum suffered from type 1 diabetes from the age of 23, lost her eyesight in later years, persevered through many health issues but never complained and was able to enjoy life through sheer determination. She was a loving mother who always put others before her own needs.
  10. What is the best age to be?  Why? A child aged 5 to 6- the age of innocence, make believe, freedom, lack of real responsibilities and the opening up of a whole world of learning.
  11. Where do you want to travel? Anywhere and everywhere! However, UK and Sth Africa are always special as our two sons live there. I would love to go to Sth America, Vietnam and many of the African countries.

The 11 bloggers I nominate:-

  1. Maria Colussa
  2. Britt Gow
  3. Jess McCulloch
  4. Mel Cashen
  5. Sue Wyatt
  6. Lois Smethurst
  7. Penny Bentley
  8. Coffeechug  (Aaron Maurer)
  9. Sebastian Panakal
  10. Rheinhard Marx
  11. Jasmine Shannon

11 questions for my selected bloggers! (These are a mix of original and previously asked questions)

  1. If you could choose just one thing to change about the world, what would it be?
  2. If you could only read one blog this year, which would it be? Why?
  3. What is your favourite online tool and why?
  4. How do you learn best?
  5. Who/what inspired you to be who you want to be or are today?
  6. Favourite hobby?
  7. Where do you want to travel?
  8. What is the best book you have ever read?
  9. What kind of student were you?
  10. Do you have any pets? What are they?
  11. What is special about your culture?

Teachable moments!

My combined year 11 and 12 class had just logged on to their computers when one of the students asked whether I had seen the Kony video. Intrigued, I asked for more information, then decided to forget the planned lesson and let the class watch it.

How opportune it was as the students are studying online communities, their purpose and functionality etc! The documentary is gripping and is powerful viewing. It makes for some wonderful discussion points for IT in general, including the power of social networking and online communities, demonstrates some fine visual data, gripping viewing and a challenge. The documentary, uploaded yesterday, shares the atrocious work of Kony in Uganda and his role in murder, child soldiers, rapes and the slave trade. The aim is to catch him before the end of the year.

Here is the link to the video in vimeo. At the beginning of the day 1 million people had watched the video in youtube. By the end of the day 4 million, the next day, 30 million. It has gone viral.
Twitter displayed it as  the top trending topic for the day. #stopkony
Have you watched this video? What would your comments be?

Getting organised for the start of a new school year


Determined to continue experimenting as much as possible with online tools and technology to engage students and empower their learning, I feel that one of the key factors to success will be organisation, appropriate online presence and developing individual name brands. It is easy to get ‘lost’ with the resources, tasks that need to be completed and student work (and I am naturally a disorganised person!) With this in light, the first few days will be spent getting students setup. Here is what will be done:-

From my (the teacher) perspective

  1. Register each student from my classes, (excepting the preps) with  an individual global2 blog. (our Education Department campus of edublogs)
  2. Setup my own class blog as an example for students eg add my timetable, links to resources etc
  3. Make sure my google calendar is updated
  4. Update my google reader for RSS feeds
  5. Use netvibes to organize my digital life, classes and teaching See Overview on netvibes and blog post for the Flat Classroom Certified Teacher course
  6. Survey students to ascertain their use of technology and online spaces.
  7. Update my class blog, adding in links for new student blogs and editing the year levels that students are in.
The student perspective:
  1. Type up a timetable in MS Word or Excel, add it to a page on each student’s blog
  2. Add links on the sidebar to regularly used sites and useful resources
  3. Setup folders for each subject on computer desktop and network
  4. Setup  an igoogle page for organisational startups eg google mail, calendar, RSS feeds with google reader, appropriate gadgets, customization See some tips from thurs3
  5. Create a google calendar and add to igoogle page

10 Things you should know about Blog Comments

blog comments

The third challenge in the Advanced Student Blogging Activity looked at comments on blogs. Here are 1o Things you should know about comments. (They are not in any particular order.)
  1. They are highly motivational
  2. Comments can create conversations and therefore learning
  3. They are a vital point of contact or connection: as blogging provides a global presence, people who wish to learn more about you, connect with you or just communicate can easily do so via comments
  4. Care needs to be taken with comments – use proper English, be positive, use appropriate language. Remember that some readers may need to use a translator.
  5. Always reply to someone who comments on your blog post, read what they are blogging about and ask a question where possible to keep the conversation going
  6. Actively encourage comments by asking a question(s) in your blog post
  7. Ensure you moderate comments to keep spammers and unwanted bodies at bay.
  8. Allow at least 10 mins per week to comment on others’ blog posts
  9. Whenever you read a blog post, please consider commenting to let the blogger know that you have visited – even if it is just to say “Thanks for posting”
  10. You can be updated on further comments added to a particular blog post,  by subscribing to the comment feed.

Some Further reading:-

What would you add to the list of things you should know about blogging?

10 things You Should Know About Class Blogs

Class Blogs are great! They can have real ‘class’! A class blog is created by a teacher and is often used as a platform for sharing class activities, writings, thoughts, reflections etc Here are 10 things you should know about them!

Please note: this post is in response to the first challenge in the 30 Day Blogging with Students

  1. They are the best starting point for blogging with students.
  2. Class blogs allow the teachers and students to learn together – how posts work, how comments work, how digital citizenship works, netiquette, appropriate digital footprints etc
  3. As the teacher can have full control, any difficulties and issues that might arise can be quickly dealt with.
  4. Students can gain their apprenticeship in blogging with a class blog, before getting a license to start their own blog.
  5. Once the teacher is ready for students to add posts directly they can be added in as editors  or another type of user.
  6. Teachable moments will arise, including blog titles, post content, commenting, adding appropriate comments, behaviour online, cyber safety, plaguarism etc.
  7. Class blogs a are a great platform for connection with parents, staff and the general community
  8. Pages on class blogs can feature many resources eg pages on cybersafety page, parent information page, timetable, homework etcA platform to ‘house’ links to most commonly used resources on a blog roll will allow quick access to online sites.
  9. Develops into a ‘brag bag’ or digital portfolio of a class’s year .
  10. Can become immersed in the classroom as a near complete learning management system, complete with lesson instructions, tutorials, resources, podcasts, reflections, feedback etc. It is available 24/7/365 for revision, lesson planning and more.

Do you have a class blog? What would you say is important to note about a class blog?

Adding Legs to my Blog (alias “Walking you through my sidebar!”

Add Bling to a Blog

Challenge #7 of Kick Start Your Blog looked at the use of widgets in a blog and the possibility of adding some bling! The sidebar(s) of a blog may need a spring clean and mine certainly did and still does. Here is what I did in the spring clean! Let me walk you through my side bar.

1. About Me My blog did not have an avatar on the sidebar, so I registered for a gravatar, added my photo and wrote a short piece about ambitions and passions. I will link this to may ‘About Me’ page.

2.  Categories This is an essential item on a blog, so that posts of a similar topic can be searched for. Search engines may also pick up on the categories. Maintained my drop down menu for categories. Tags should appear near the categories so that readers interested in more, can quickly choose a tag.

3. RSS Feed – allows interested readers to subscribe to my blog and receive notice of post updates. The “subscribe by email” option is also on the sidebar for those who prefer to receive it by email.

4. Search box: To retrieve blog posts on a particular topic (primarily for personal use)

5. Badges: It is with pride that these are displayed – nominations for the Edublogs Awards 2008, 2010.It is also with pride that I promote the amazing Global Education Conference 2010.

6. Blogroll: this aspect still needs tidying up, as some blogs are idle and there are others  to add. Then follows links to global projects, frequently used resources, blogs that are special to me (family etc) and my other blogs. Horror of all horrors – I had not added the Kick Start Your Blog Challenge to my sidebar. That was quickly rectified. As the blogroll gets longer, I shall consider putting this on a page rather than the sidebar.

7. Widgets: I am still trying to work out what widgets  wordpress will accept but Clustrmaps has been added. This is reset each year. Sometimes, I catch my students looking at my map, working out what countries the dots are from etc.  Geovisite has some great tracking options but cannot be added to wordpress.

8. Meta:- login for the blog. This should be at the bottom of the sidebar as only the blogger needs access to this.

I am not sure whether I need the latest tweets or  my latest post updates. A clock widget would be good so if anyone knows of one for wordpress, I would love you tell me as a comment below.

Class Blog - As my students use this blog, it has more bling but is also in major need of renovation. As our location is changing, I need to redo all my widgets and sidebar.

  1. Features most of the above except the blogroll includes links to my student blogs.
  2. Digital clock –  to inform our global contacts what
    day it is in Australia and what the current time where we live.
  3. A countdown to an important event or to the end of the year
  4. Student blog of the week
  5. Tags in a word cloud
  6. Geovisite tracking and mapping  objects
  7. Feedjit traffic feed

What do you see as essential on your sidebar? How does the sidebar on your teacher blog compare to that on a class blog?

 

Adding legs to my blog (alias “Walking you through my sidebar) http://murcha.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/widgets-and-bling-add-legs-to-the-blog/