Mondays are crazy or mad days for me, as I teach every possible lesson ie 6 periods for the day. After lunch, I have the Ping music project, where I have the two year 7 groups combined. The students who have attended our school since primary school are conversant in technology use and web2.0 tools, but 1/3 of them are new to us this year, and have limited or basic expertise. This means that I need to be super organized and cater for all skill levels. Before each class, I list on a tick sheet what the students need to complete for the double session, with spare activities at the end to challenge those students who complete their work quickly.
Today, was not so ‘mad’, in fact so many interesting developments took place. In period 1, my year 11 class experimented with xtranormal One of our students completed the movie and it successfully embedded in his blog. Perod 2 was year 11 accounting and as the cd that comes with the text did not have the correct case study, I had to quickly think of an excercise that students who had finished their work could work on. Budgeting was our theme, so students worked on an xtranormal movie to explain the concepts of budgeting.
Scheduled for the pod and working with my year 12 class for Information Technology Applications, we had a fascinating lesson today. Studying virtual teams as part of their set coursework, I set up a data projector and speakers to show them some of the virtual teams that I work with. First site was twitter. People quickly responded from various countries and many of them from Australia. One interesting response came from @susanwrites who is an author. @susanwrites @murcha Hello to year 12 students from an author in California. 7pm in the evening here, it’s still light out and perfect spring weather.
When I explained that we were studying virtual teams, Susan responded with:- “You and your students might want to check out freshbrain.org It’s all virtual – technology, leraning and fun, kids 13-18 ” Before I could blink, students in my class who did not have a twitter account, were registering. Next minute this tweet came up on the white board:-774melbourneCFA launches http://www.cfaconnect.net.au/
One of my students said to me that she was part of the pilot program for this project. How amazing was that, that the tweet came up at the very time we were online! It must give her satisfaction in that the ground work has now contributed to this launch and she was part of it. Plus, she heard of the launch as soon as the media release went out.
Then came my double year 7 class after lunch. I had been rung up that morning to ask whether we could videoconference with some student teachers in Parkville, Melbourne and as Ajax was with them (our Ping organiser) we used this session. This is the first time that we have used skype or videoconferencing with another party in Australia!! As we were in the computer lab, my facilities are limited. I used my laptop and its inbuilt camera. It was placed on an old printer that was placed on a table at the front. This would allow a view of the classroom for those who were participating.
External speakers and a usb mic were used for a start but we had to revert to a headset and its mic. My laptop worked on wireless internet which was not quite strong enough to keep both videos going. So, we turned the video on for the people who were talking. Again, I was amazed, that the most challenging of students volunteered to come up to the microphone and talk to their skype audience. These students often struggle with written media and literacy but confidently speak to an unknown audience. Questions were asked and a number of students went to the web camera to speak about where they live and what they enjoyed about Ping.
The rest of the double lesson was used for writing a story without pictures and words. Julie Lindsay from Qatar academy is working with the same topic ,as her students have WWW – a week without walls. Some students are off to Italy, London and Turkay. Those students who remain behind are completing an alternative program which includes music sessions in the lab. Julie’s students will also produce ‘stories without pictures and words’, featuring Middle Eastern instruments. The best will be uploaded onto the Ping blog for us to share. My students will try and compose a story with an Australian influence – where they live, their favourite holiday destination, the outback etc How exciting is that?