Monthly Archives: November 2008

Back to the Past – a trip of Nostalgia

Madigans tea rooms
Madigans tea rooms

This morning, I had to go to Penshurst to deliver some wedding flowers. While I waited, I decided to venture into Madigans, a beautiful old bluestone building, to order a cup of tea. Jazz music from the roaring twenties greeted me as I entered the tea rooms and antique shop.

Although the morning was cool, I had my cup of tea and fruit scone seated at the table and chairs outside. My view was of Mt Rouse and the tea rooms were of bluestone construction, quarried nearby. It was as I read the date of construction, 1857, and looked at my view, that I became quite nostalgic, as this is where the journey with generation Y actually began!!

The old store in Penshurst

18 months ago, a rich picture case studies grant enabled me to work with grade 6 students to produce podcasts about our local volcanic region. Our first outing was to visit the Volcano Discovery Centre at Penshurst and take a guided tour into the old quarries and up to the top of Mt Rouse. I can still hear Mt Rouse exploding on many of the students’ podcasts as they cast their audios, sound effects and photos on various topics relating to Mt Rouse. As grant criteria required us to use web2.0 tools, we also commenced a backyard blog, which led to a teacher and individual student blogs.

The memories have haunted me all day. Who ever would have dreamed how far this journey has taken us.



Netbooks for students



Through a series of grants and funding, Hawkesdale P12 College has purchased a set of 16 acer aspire ones, 1gb ram, 120gb rom for mobile use by staf and students. The increasing use of web2.0 tools and technological access has placed huge demand on our computer lab and pod. At any one time there could be a combination of students from up to 4 classes in the computer lab, when space is available. Staff try to get timetabled into the computer room, but is is not always possible.  Netbooks are available for borrowing either as a class set or on an individual basis, through out library. A trolley on wheels allows the small computers to be taken to the classroom and then returned. Windows XP is loaded onto them, they are wireless networked and enable students to access their student network. I have personally found that my battery lasts approx 4 hours. Moviemaker runs well on them.

The students love to use them and you can read some of the comments from grade 4 and 5 students as to why they think they should have one each. See a movie of them at work by clicking on the link below:-


Leckyloo grade 4

This is why i think we should have mini ACER laptops……….

some times it’s hard to get a computer when i really need one.

They are small and easy to carry.grace-on-netbook1

you can play maths games at home to get better at times tables.

you can write posts on your blog at home if you don’t have a computer. 

if you have a story or project that you need to finish you can take it home.

your mum and dad can see your blog and work that you are doing.

these are my reasons whey we should have mini ACER laptops

benny grade 4

It will help us if we are sick and we will do stuff at home in bed in stead of nothing.

If the lab and the pod are full we can do it in class at writing time.

That’s why we want a laptop.trevor-and-jayden2


Adzy grade 5

  1. They are small and easy to carry around
  2. helping people to blog and search the internet
  3. fun to learn and play with
  4. easy to type on
  5. you can do school work on them at home


Cultural Exchange through Blogging

Last year, a mispelt ning address which brought me to the global education collaborative website set up by Lucy Gray. As it looked interesting and I enjoy being part of global projects, I joined. At the beginning of the USA school year, Lucy sent an email out  to all members, linking us to suggested projects which had been placed on to a shared google sheet. Two of the projects looked interesting for us to be involved in as they involved blogging or working on a shared wiki.

I enrolled my years 9 and 10 students for the cross culture blogging project set up by Dorothy in Texas, and my grade 4 and 5 students for the globalexplorers project. As we are nearing the completion of the former project, I wish to say what an amazing one it was. Four schools were involved – from Wilcox High  (Mr Hurley) in California,  Hawkesdale, Australia; Anderson High School (Mrs Holrah and Mrs Lee) in Texas, USA and Sajik (Sumi Kim) school in Korea.

Learning outcomes have been high, as students not only learnt more about other countries but even more about their own country. Some of the learning outcomes included:-

  • how to comment on blogger student blogs
  • appropriate comments
  • how to translate Korean blogs into English and the challenging task or working out how to add comments back.
  • needing to expand and give depth to their posts for a global audience as no Australian cultural knowledge can be assumed. Questions would fly in hard and fast from their global peers trying to tease out more details to their posts.
  • Students were engaged. They enjoyed the post prompts and loved checking out the comments that would be there at the beginning of each info tech class.
  • when asked, they all indicated by a show of hands that they really enjoyed this project
  • receiving a parcel form Sajik School in Korea, with cultural contents, hand made notes and photos was a highlight.
  • Learning outcomes have improved as my students were forced to research topics pertaining to their own country and their compare that form students in USA and Korea.

Live Blogging in Education

Live blogging using coveritlive

  •  is user friendly
  • enables real time interaction
  • allows chat in a moderated environment. Producers have full rights to moderate or block if necessary any comments received.
  • allows polls to be set up quickly for quick feedback and variety
  • will allow insertion of mp3 files, images and videos
  • has a text toolbar
  • is free and can be embedded into a blog, wiki or ning
  • Stays alive for 3 days or so if need be
  • can be saved and edited once the blog is finished.
  • can be integrated with twitter

One very valuable teaching colleague of mine, Mr Paul Bogush, from collaborationnation, introduced me to live blogging using coveritlive. This was a new tool to me, but it was quickly mastered, especially as Paul set up the first live blogs for us. Paul’s students were in their homes in Connecticut at night, while I had mine in the computer lab in a morning session. Despite the complexity of the situation, Paul kept perfect control by using CAPS letters when he needed to keep us all on task. Students were all chatting and typing at once so that we lost the ‘sense’ and order of topics. Using an audio tool, Paul was able to talk his students through it all, while I had mine face to face. Students from each country would take it in turns to ask a question and all responded. Polls were also used. It was extremely successful as a collaborative and interactive tool and really popular amongst the students.

Other uses I have made for live blogging:-

  •  survey students (ensures that all respond, quick to set up)
  • revision with my senior classes. Questions are asked, students reply, comments are then moderated so they can compare and I can test understanding and knowledge.
  •  blogging an online conference. Allows permanent notes and participation by other global citizens who may not have registered or missed out on a place.

Another rewarding experience so far with live blogging, was recently with another colleague of mine, Lorraine Leo from Boston. She wanted to be part of that start of the Vendee Globe nonstop, around the world yacht race and asked me to help her set up a live blog. Lorraine invited some of her global friends along and at 7:30pm on the Sunday night in November we accessed the blog. An educationalist, Venny, from Taiwan, Lorraine and I were first on to the blog. We introduced ourselves and discussed the atmosphere. Even though it was in French, they were able to view the live online TV coverage. Due to our poor bandwidth, I was unable to, but soon they were typing in, what they could see. Next on the scene was Vincent, an active global teacher, from France and Hors Les Murs  or Beyond the Walls ning producer. He was able to interpret for us the content of the TV coverage. Soon Lorraine was dropping screen grabs as images into the live blog and teachers from Azores, Spain and Italy joined us in the conversation. This is exactly what live blogging is and can be all about. See the live blog below, after my tips, by clicking on the play button.

Tips for using Coveritlive

  1. ensure the live blog is set up well in advance
  2. decide who and how many should be producers (with full moderation rights) on the blog
  3. send out invitations to any special friends or guests
  4. embed the code in a blog or wiki for students and others to access easily
  5. if it is used between two or more classes, it is useful to have several producers or panelists
  6. set up the rules before you start eg one question at a time, ensure all have responded, then move on to the next question
  7. practice inserting images, music and video files and polls. Our huge blooper when we live blogged with Richmond Primary School, the Premier, Minister for Education and the head of Telstra was that we had difficulty uploading an image and then ended up putting a default image which was one of the Simpsons!!!
  8. keep identities and user names secure
  9. ensure that students keep their same user name throughout and do now switch identities.
  10. close the live blog when completed and edit if needbe.

Various ways to use coveritlive

More tips from a live blogger

View the live blog

Live blogging using coveritlive

Talk It Tuesdays

A much smaller group gathered this week for the Knowledge Bank Talk it Tuesdays.  Discussions centred around keeping year 7 and 8s motivated. Despite trialling the latest technology, students can be happy with pen and paper tasks. Ways in which live blogging using CoverITlive was also discussed. The applications for both the classroom and general professional development were all looked at.

As we were a small group, we experimented with the new online software woices. This has potential for very interesting applications for classroom use – soundscapes, geography, bushwalks, novel plotting etc. Kate who was our host for the afternoon, shared the web application, so we were all able to listen and watch simultaneously. The chatroom was vibrant with great conversations.

The !DEA conference 2008

The !dea 2008 conference is being held at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Hawkesdale P12 College is a finalist in the 2009 IMS GLC Learning Impact awards. There are 11 finalists involved and we are so proud that we are the only school featuring in these national awards.
Yesterday, we were involved in speed dating. People attending the conference formed small groups and  were rotated around finalists’ booths. We were given 4 mins to speak to our product – our
 Judging was based on the following criteria:

  • access
  • affordability
  • quality
  • adoption
  • accountability
  • organisational learning
  • interoperability
  • innovation


The image is of Marg Murnane, who came with me. It was taken with my mobile phone, bluetoothed into my laptop and uploaded online whilst at the conference. Love the mobile technology!

Here is our submission abstract:-
Connecting to the Globe at Hawkesdale P12 College
A blog which was initially seen to be an online journal and writing tool, has gone from being a backyard blog to being fully utilised across the staff, classes and students of Hawkesdale P12 College in rural Western Victoria. The blog initially recorded the evidence of volcanic activity in local backyards, as grade 6 students were producing podcasts for the Penshurst Volcano Discovery Centre. Our area is now a geopark, Kanawinka, in the Western District of Victoria
This blog became global and encouraged blogging to be taught and used as a communication tool in ICT classes and LOTE The powerful learning outcomes that this has provided, encouraged the majority of staff to blog and manage class blogs. Class blogs for years prep to nine are also maintained.
A container blog, or Hawkesdale p12 College webpage, to manage local, countrywide and global access to these blogs has been set up. Blogs allow pages, post, blogrolls, url links, comments, widgets to be featured and have allowed us to connect, communicate and share with each other, our parents, our community and the globe.

Look who I have just been talking to…..




Hi Paul, having blogged with my students for about 10 months, I am quite certain, that blogging lifts the standards. They want their work to look good and try to keep out all spelling mistakes. When they share their blog post with other global partners, they need to expand their posts to cover all angles, or their peers pound them with many questions.

How exciting is this!! Tonight I was on the computer late, trying to get organized for my two days in Melbourne, when a foreign language popped up on my screen, from my skype window. However, the text was in English and my first name was used. I quickly realised that this must be my newly acquired friend from classroom20 who was looking for schools to videoconference with. I cannot even attempt to spell and I have difficulty pronouncing her name in English as she is from Russia.  We will be videoconferencing with her classes in the first week in December. English is their second language so we will need to be very patient. Their city has millions living in it and is close to the European border. However, the school only has 150 students. Her class is about to go to Prague for 10 days, to sit some exams.

The  audio only dropped a couple of times, otherwise all was crystal clear. The video was perfect.