Category Archives: Uncategorized

Preparing Blogs to be Global

mac wordart of students in class

Mac’s word cloud for students of Year 8

This year, I am teaching a one semester elective to year 9/10 students called Global ICT. Students will maintain their blogs to share a little of our country, where we live, where we go to school and our culture. To start the school year, they will create word clouds of

  • first names of students in their class (gives an indication of names for our culture, as names vary across countries) See Felicity
  • subjects studied See Mikaylah
  • teachers names See Jack’s post and Harby’s post  Both boys used Wordart
  • towns (all small and rural) that our students come from

Why use word clouds?

  • engaging for an audience – colourful, summarizes, formatting styles
  • it is a visual summary of a topic or theme
  • good for those with lower literacy skills
  • easy to use, great for those who speak English as a second language in my class


  • 195 Countries of the World in a Word Cloud See Bayleys work in wordart. He copied and pasted the names of the countries, edited the formatting and placed the country names in a globe.

Wordle was a past favourite to create word clouds, but it does not work on Google Chrome and now does not work well with Internet Explorer. Below are some of the alternatives for students to experiment with.

  1. Worditout  See a video tutorial
  2. Abcya Word Cloud Generator See a video tutorial
  3. Tagcrowd
  4. Wordart

Students were engaged and enjoyed using these tools.

See Web Tools for Kids for other interesting tools for avatars, word clouds etc



After experimenting with a number of robotics type devices, I have found that the Micro:bit is a great way to introduce coding and bring that coding to life.

The advantages:

  1. They are cheap – less than $30AUD for the micro:bit and lead
  2. Immediate and quick results for students of all ability levels
  3. Simple to connect to computer
  4. Great online resources and tutorials – simple, effective, user friendly
  5. Students were highly engaged and there were few problems in getting an outcome
  6. Reasonable robust for its size.
  7. Can be used on Windows devices and Apple technology
  8. there are a number of programming languages that can be used


  1. Size – some students had difficulty in connecting the lead to the micro:bit
  2. Code needs to be downloaded, then dragged across and dropped into the micro:bit usb drive on a PC. Students soon got used to using the download folder though.
  3. Only uses .hex files
  4. Each time you write a new program, the old one is replace, you cannot store previous code

Where to start

  • Showed the following videos
  • Explained how to connect the lead to the micro:bit and computer
  • Demonstrated the Flashing Heart tutorial from the Micro:bit Make Code website explaining they needed to sketch 2 different hearts (to give the impression of flashing)
  • Showed how to download the hex file>open in folder>drag and drop into the Micro:bit usb drive
  • Students then created their own flashing heart and downloaded the code to their micro:bit
  • They then worked through the other tutorials



Online resources and apps to engage students in accounting

comview banner

The title above is the topic that I will be presenting on at Comview 2018 This post is for the participants (and other interested parties) to access the links for the sessions.

Online document of resources.

Link for answergarden

@murcha on twitter

Link to presentation



Skypeathon 2018

front picture slide

The annual Skypeathon gets bigger, better and more global each year. The dates for 2018 are Tuesday, November 13th and Wednesday 14th. The theme this year is “Open Hearts, Open Minds”.

I like the quote from this tweet from Microsoft in Education, Canada re “it is a live-learning marathon”.

The following tweet provides more details about the social goals for this year’s Skypeathon.

You can learn more by visiting the Skypeathon site Follow the steps to request mystery skype calls. There is an activity plan to organize your calls or digital passports, stickers  and posters etc to be had. If you follow the #skypeathon hashtag on twitter, there are opportunities for organic or unplanned connections with people who are looking for partners. However, for the miles to be recorded, please request a mystery skype call at the planned time.

Already planned Skype calls for my classes include the following countries

  • Argentina
  • USA (students are either sleeping over or staying back after school)
  • Philippines
  • India
  • Australia

Some of these involve live cultural or muscial performances, some are mystery skype calls and some are short sharing session. One is a connection with Microsoft manager talking about digital technology to my year 9/10 computer class. Are you going to be involved and if so, who will you connect with.


Towards Problem Free Global Collaboration!

connecting with japan voicethread

A recent question, for discussion, was put up on our ISTE Global PLN Connects Site, by April DeGenarro and it read like this

“As a preventative tool, I am trying to create a list of things that every global collaborating teacher should do to work towards a problem-free global collaboration experience.  This mostly applies to the teacher-initiated projects where one teacher arranges to work with another teacher(s). What are some of the things you ALWAYS check before and during your projects?

global connections
My responses to this were:-

  1. What is the time frame for the project? (Can it be completed during my school term and school year as we start our Australian school year at the end of Jan and finish in Dec.) Shorter projects are much better to start with.
  2. What tools will be used – synchronous (will it be in real time) or asynchronous (non real time)? eg We are asleep when most of the USA is at school and our school day starts when US schools are finished, so synchronous connections are tricky.
  3. How confident are the teachers with the tools? Are they user friendly and free?
  4. Does my school have access to the tools to be used? ie are they blocked.
  5. What devices can be used by students – can the tools be used cross platform and devices.
  6. Age group for the project? I teach secondary but find that my students have more confidence when they work with younger ones eg using flipgrid pals. Therefore, cross age projects can work.
  7. How frequently will teachers communicate as good communication ensures a successful and completed project?
  8. Time zone differences (always need to be measured in UTC or GMT). This is one of my greatest challenges
  9. Test the connections if videoconferencing is to be used prior to a direct linkup.
  10. What language will be used? Will the tools used allow translation options?

After the project: 

Reflect on the project:

  1. Write a a journal entry, preferably as a blog post (students should do this too)
  2. Share class reflections on a flipgrid and share with the connecting class. Both classes could contribute to the flipgrid.
  3. Promote the activity via twitter and facebook and/or other social media channels.

Maintain the teacher to teacher connections.

Seek further ongoing connections to continue the learning.

Although global connections may not be completely trouble free there are things we can do to make them as engaging and powerful as possible.

Where to start: Coding with Scratch

As I have done little in the way of coding and programming (and have never learnt it formally), I am more than  nervous about introducing it into my classes. So reluctant in fact, that I have left this area of study until the last school term for years 7 and 8. Over the last few years a small group of students have been involved in the Games Net project with ACMI. This required them to collaboratively develop a game using Scratch, so I have simply watched them get involved! Most educators suggest starting to program with block coding and as Scratch is free, global and shares so many resources willingly, I am going to start my year 7 and 8 students programming in Scratch, even though the curriculum would suggest that I use more sophisticated coding programs. Some students have already used it in primary school, so hopefully, there are some experienced code crunchers in there!

However, as it is now part of the new Digitech curriculum, I am forced to take it on!! But where to get started???? In the past I have printed off a range of sheets with basic codes that can be used to move the cat sprite. Unfortunately this did not engage the students for long. One of my favourite sites for classroom resources is Tes. There are some wonderful resources shared by teachers – some free, some with a small charge. I went to the Resources tab, keyed in “Scratch” and found some great coding projects to create simple and more complex games. All the ones that I have used are free. I chose some that looked user friendly and engaging for students, downloaded and saved them on the network and printed some on our colour printer.

We started with was the worksheet Scratch by tonymitch. It was free. Students create a simple racing track as a backdrop, add a car sprite and code the car to race around the track.  Students who were more confident with Scratch used their creativity and changed the backdrop etc. Then went on to develop their own games. Beginner students tried some of the projects from this workbook by Nick Rickus (the maze game and frog game). These were more challenging and they had to use code that they had learnt from the racing track game to ensure it worked. (I think this is using the old version of Scratch.)

See games developed in Scratch by some of the year 7 students:

Mac Tank Game was his variation on  a maze game, his racing car game involves 2 players and his maze game

Next time I would use the following resources to introduce Scratch –

More resources:

  1. Scratch Session 1 of 3 – fish tank game which teaches scoring, timer and game over screen
  2. Scratch Gamepacks
  3. Scratch Workbooks
  4. Pacman Challenge

and so much more.

Once students completed their games, they had to share the project online in Scratch, grab the embed code from Scratch and place the games into their blogs.

Impact on students: Students are highly engaged. They love to play each other’s games and test them. They access the games via each other’s blogs. Students who would not normally achieve much in class due to low literacy levels are able to use code and are often become the ‘experts’. Some socially isolated students become the most adept and are highly sought after for their expertise in solving problems that often higher achieving students struggle with.

Further directions

Students will be encouraged to leave positive comments on each other’s blog posts with feedback on what they liked about the game and suggestions for improvements.



Learning how to use Makey Makey with Scratch


At the recent ACCE conference, I attended as many ‘hands on’ workshops as possible as I am not at all confident with using coding and robotics. One of the sessions involved “Using Makey Makey with Scratch” with Meredith Ebbs, a NSW project officer. See her blog site for more – Observe, Learn, Do and KodeKlubbers


This session showed how to use Makey Makey with Scratch. As we have 6 makey makeys in our school, I was keen to learn more. They are cheaper options to get into for coding and programming than many of the robotic kits.

Possible uses:

  • Setup makey makey as a keyboard convertor, then integrate Scratch to program the Makey Makey
  • Could use  for quick one answer surveys (eg did you enjoy this lesson “yes”/”no” as students exit the classroom)
  • Make artworks and poster interactive (eg enable audio to sound on posters)
  • Can be used to add LEDs etc into the boards
  • Adding split pins to posters, activates storytelling which has been recorded in Scratch and activated by the makeymakey

What I learnt:

A good way to start using Makey Makey is to set up a keyboard using aluminium foil covered cards that are attached to the makey makey with crocodile clips. (Cards are required for each of the arrow keys and one for earthing). Then google for a “pacman game”. Use the foil covered cardboard and appropriately attached crocodile clips to the Makey Makey to play the game.



Some suggested resources:

  1. – fantastic online document including all resources shared together with Meredith’s actual presentation
  2. CSER MOOC – free online open source PD
  3. Follow Colleen Graves on twitter

Some other useful extras

  • buy a caterer’s bulk pack of aluminium foil
  • photo below shows some other useful items


The picture below shows an object useful to use as a voting lever as students eg leave the classroom for evaluation or to vote in a simple survey.


Some code that might be useful