Category Archives: online sessions

Virtual Ice Breakers – Mystery Sounds

One of the posts on this padlet suggested doing a Mystery Sound game as a virtual ice breaker with remote classes.  As this week is our last week of term 3, just prior to a 2 week spring break, I wanted to do something fun with the students. Mystery sounds sounded good.

Below are the sounds that I chose to play to the students. They will put their guesses in the MS Teams chat. I will share the screen, choosing the share sound option. However, after having chosen the sounds, I realised that  it owuld not work as screen sharing also displayed the name of the sound. Instead, I used a premade youtube clip. (See below). Students enjoyed the activity. It took approximately 40 mins to complete.

The sounds that I chose are below:

Youtube Mystery Sounds

  1. Bubbles
  2. A sweeping broom
  3. Opening a bottle
  4. Wind
  5. Airplane
  6. Fly spray
  7. Electric fan
  8. Open can
  9. Lawn mower
  10. Microwave
  11. Keys
  12. Whistling keys
  13. Vaccum cleaner
  14. Breaking dishes
  15. Cash register
  16. Computer keyboard
  17. Chainsaw
  18. Scratched record
  19. Fire drill sound
  20. Fire truck

Which webinar platform for online professional learning?

A recent question came up on our Oz Teachers mailing list re which webinar platform could be or should be used  for national online professional learning. Following is my response:-

One tool will rarely suit all scenarios. Many factors affect the choice. Teaching and living in a remote rural area of Victoria, I personally feel that it is important to choose a tool that is accessible for people who experience low bandwidth.

Some considerations when choosing a platform are as follows.  Does it allow:-

  • shared presentations
  • individual logins, number of logins
  • bandwidth  -ability to manually pull back bandwidth so anyone from anywhere can participate
  • ability to record sessions and share recording
  • interactivity from participants – chat, interactive whiteboard, polling, breakout rooms for small group discussions, sharing emoticons
  • ease of use and logging on
  • use chat, voice, video etc
  • ability to share screens
  • can files be sent through the medium?
  • Moderating abilities and potential need to control the participants
  • The use of any device – fixed devices, a variety of platforms, mobile devices etc
  • And is there a cost

Having used a variety of webinar platforms over the last 4 or 5 years, blackboard collaborate is still my favourite. I use it weekly for Tech Talk Tuesday webinars where participants from across all states and many countries of the globe, including Nepal and Indonesia, have attended. This  includes participants from state and government schools, community groups and government departments. There will be problems at times with sites being blocked in individual institutions, or proxy setting issues– all of which are fixable with technical support and permission

Webinar tools that I have used include-

Tools that are free, or have a free element :-

Tools that cost:

  • Blackboard Collaborate – Victorian Education Department has purchased a statewide license for teachers in both state and private schools to use for educational purposes: classes, online meetings and professional development.
  • DiscoverE – built specifically for low bandwidth areas
  • Adobe Connect etc
  • MS Lync: available for Victorian Educators to use with a Department of Education license

What platforms have you use? Which have you had issues with? Were they resolvesd? What do you look for as either a presenter of participant in online professional learning?

Ideas for teaching students successfully in elluminate – a virtual classroom

As our two pre-service teachers, enter their virtual placement week, it is necessary to have as much scaffolding in place for them. They will be teaching a variety of year levels and age groups – from 13 years through to 17 years of age, using a number of tools, but mostly elluminate.

Therefore, it is time to reflect on what they need to do before their online class, during the class and finalizing class and have a running sheet set up for them, to use as a guideling. Following are some tips and hints on teaching successfully. What has been left out? How  could it be improved?

Planning for the lesson

  1. Book an elluminate room
  2. Organise your powerpoint slides
  3. Work out features required:- polling,media, app sharing, breakout rooms. 
  4. Plan a running sheet with times allocated for each activity
  5. Use as much interactivity as possible
  6. Consider an ice breaker
  7. Place the participants’link on your blog or in an easily accessible space.
  8. Seek another moderator to help you (if need be.)
  9. Use the chat and the whiteboard.
  10. Vary the activities
  11. Use busy images as much as possible
  12. Think about a discipline plan
  13. Set up a backchannel eg twitter or skype if there is a supervising teacher with the class.

Prior to lesson

  1. Enter room, test audio.
  2. Test, test and always test.
  3. If time practise any special features to be used in class
  4. Move the ‘start recording’ button to the side.
  5. Load powerpoint slides
  6. You may wish to start with a graffiti board, where students can play while others are getting into the room.
  7. Check the number of mics, the connection setting, tools allowed etc
  8. Create a timeout room folder (for those who are misbehaving), Create any breakout folders required
  9. Open any urls that you might wish to app share
  10. Send any files that you may need to share
  11. Make moderators of selected participants
  12. Go through a code of conduct with the students.

During the lesson

  1. Students should test their audio through wizard upon entry, may be allowed to graffiti or ‘Play on a clean whiteboard’ until all are in.
  2. Warn that you are about to start the recording, clean up any whiteboards, ensure class is silent and ready, then press record.
  3. Remember to speak deliberately s..l..o..w..l..y and clearly.
  4. Welcome the class/ give a general introduction to the lesson
  5. Briefly run through the virtual classroom tools
  6. Start with an icebreaker
  7. Use the timer constantly – short sharp activities
  8. Use images, little text
  9. Use polls where possible
  10. Get them to answer a question in chat, don’t press send until told, use a green tick when completed. Then get them all to send response at once (stops cheating)
  11. Use the chat, the whiteboard and encourage the use of emoticons for feedback.
  12. Vary the activities and make as interactive as possible
  13. Use busy images as much as possible
  14. Save the participants list (this is a valuable type of roll marking)

Disciplinary actions

  1. If discipline is required, use capital letters to raise your voice in the chat, send students to timeout room for a warning, keep them there for predetermined time, remove any tools that they have, send back to main room when ready.
  2. If student is constantly misbehaving, keep them in the timeout room. If you remove them from the room, they may still have the link and will just keep coming back in.

To assess student progress during the lesson

  1. Maintain video image on the working class, get some students to individually application share their work so that you can see how they are going.
  2. All questions should be placed in the chat, so virtual teacher maintains control

To complete the lesson

  1. Share any closing activities
  2. Allow sufficient time to pack up any gear eg headsets, netbooks/laptops etc
  3. Set up a whiteboard for feed back or have a preset survey link for students to complete
  4. Dismiss students

Finalizing the session

  1. Switch off the recording
  2. Make sure all participants are removed from the room before exiting
  3. Save the chat
  4. Save the whiteboards
  5. Find the recording link, (usually in an email of person who booked the room) and save it
  6. Share the recording link back on your blog so students can go back to it for revision etc

Enjoy virtual teaching!

Should Australians go to India to play sport?

This was a discussion topic that arose out of a recent Behind the News segment (and search for India sport).  Castlemaine North PS invited us to discuss with them the above topic “Should Australians go to India to play sport?”. Our grade 6/7 students watched the program on Behind the News and discussed the issue as a class, brainstorming their ideas onto a whiteboard.
The Castlemaine teacher, Dr Bob Sbaglia, had setup mixed groups of students across the two schools.
An initial 5 min video skype linkup allowed students in each group to visibly introduce themselves to each other.
Students then went to the Castelmaine North PS website, found their group and the etherpad link for their group.
Once inside the etherpad page, discussion flowed and conversations were shared on the topic.
All students were engaged for approximately 30 minutes chatting in etherpad, sharing their viewpoints and ideas. They were on task and engrossed. So, a big thank you to Castlemaine North PS for including us in this activity. The final 5 mins was another skype linkup with selected students sharing their reflections on the session.Reflection on the use of etherpad.

Students would sometimes overwrite another’s conversation. They need to work on a line that is clearly vacant.
Students would often write their viewpoint without following and fully reading the conversations that were taking place.
Etherpad would drop out at times and we found that it was quicker to reconnect by refreshing the page.
Some of our students went to the chat window and talked in there. They need to be on the main section or page.
What next?

Will look at discussing the same issues with one of our contact schools in India.

Results of Brainstorming

Potential Uses for etherpad

  • brainstorming
  • reflections
  • discussions between schools locally or globally in real time

Advantages of etherpad

  • user friendly. Students require little or no instruction on using the space.
  • simple to set up, especially the public spaces
  • easy to log into for all age groups. Simply provide students with the link for their group to etherpad.
  • Students can be identified using different colours.
  • the discussion can be exported back into a word processing document eg MS Word
  • Students are learning appropriate digital citizenship skills and netiquette.


  • If a large number of groups require their own page, it will take some time to set up pages in etherpad and record the links online in eg a blog or wiki for students to find.
  • It can drop out, and may take a while to reconnect. We found ‘refreshing the page’ was the quickest way of getting back in.
  • Still a Public space still but students can be relatively anonymous.
  • There may be a limit to the size of the group working on one etherpad page

Conference Presentations/PD sessions

Knowlegebank online session on Thursday July 23rd 2009 in conjunction with Jenny Ashby for Knowledge Bank.

 View Recording

Talk It Tuesdays – Inaugural event

Tuesday, 14th October – the first day trialling an informal get together of educationalists – sharing, learning, connecting and communicating.

After a brief introduction, the following discussions took place:-

  • blocking of websites in schools
  • cyber safety for students (Harriet led a really interesting discussion here.)
  • netiquette and appropriate behaviour for online professional development eg ellluminate sessions (possibility of setting up and presenting appropiate guidelines at the beginning of a session)
  • appropriate use of and possible options for backchannels or chat
  • Jess McCulloch spoke about some of the mobile technology projects that she is trialling whilst in NanJing in China.
  • Quick discussion of superpluskids (social networking site for primary students, new stats feature of edublogs and globalstudent blogs, wordle, blog action day and k12 Online Conference
  • Upcoming knowledge bank online events

Evaluation of the session and suggested use of breakout sessions to concentrate on learning web2.0 tools completed the event.