Category Archives: Uncategorized

Global Mardi Gras Judging for German Students

the winner

The winner of the Mardi Gras competition – the Penguin!

Reinhard Marx has been an online teaching colleague for many years, and pushes technology use to the boundaries of the world. Each year he organises many activities for his classes and brings other classes and educators in from across the world.

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The class from Croatia, as seen through the Hangout!

Last night was one great example of his innovative work and this is what it looked like.

  1. Students in his school came dressed in costume for the Mardi Gras.
  2. Prior to the event he sent out a google spreadsheet seeking classes and teachers from across the globe to be judges. Interested teachers filled in the spreadsheet, with their name, class (if they had one), country and email contact.

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    The class from Hungary

  3. Just prior to the class, the link to a Google Hangout was shared

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    Tereza – a judge from Croatia

  4. Reinhard creatively set up 2 webcameras, one at the front for students to walk towards, showing their costume and also to act out their costume character.

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    The rear webcam allowed us to see the back of the costumes

  5. Another webcam was set up at the back of the room, so that we could see the detail of the back of the costume.
  6. There were three sessions in total. In my session, there were classes/educators from Hungary, Croatia, Russia and Australia
  7. A link was given to a judging sheet setup in Google Sheets. We gave each student a score for A) their costume itself and B)  for their ability to act out the costume character. Each was scored out of 10
    voting sheet
  8. The winner with the highest total received a chocolate bar!

Highlights

  • Sitting in on a German classroom virtually and hearing the German instructions and then often the English interpretations of the character’s costume.
  • watching students being pushed outside their comfort zones to try and act out their character
  • watching in real time, the global judges’ scores coming in on the spreadsheet
  • seeing the variety of costumes

The total time taken was approximately 50 mins. Great work, Reinhard on a very successful competition.

 

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Asian Connections – Vietnam

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People often ask how where I have found educators to connect with. As the network grows, people tend to find me. One such person is Ngo Thanh Nam of Vietnam. Nam is also a Skype Master teacher, Asia’s Educator of the Year and has shares an impressive list of experiences and accomplishments. He has also connected me to a facebook group, connecting classrooms with a global focus on child abuse and safety. This has brought a further number of global connections. Again, I was added to a facebook Skype-a-thon group where a request from Nam was made to connect his class with another Asian class or educator as they were studying Asia.

The time requested suited me but I was on summer holidays, so had no students and I was not really from Asia. Australia is part of Pacifica. However, when I said I was available, Nam asked me to connect.

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A presentation was quickly put together on Australia’s engagement with Asia under the following headings (on a personal involvement scale):-

  • close neighbours
  • trade (we live on a farm and sell our cattle and lamb to Asia.)
  • tourism (my husband and I love to travel Asia, as do other Australians. Bali,  Thailand and Vietnam are the popular destinations for Australians. Our school travels to China every second year)
  • connected classrooms
  • potential to solve global problems together etc

On connecting, I was introduced to the class and then proceeded to share my screen to show photos of our farm and  photos illustrating the above connections with Asia.

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Nam’s students then came up to the web camera on an individual basis, introduced themselves and then asked me questions on my knowledge of Asia – eg what foods are typically Asian etc? The students were well prepared, presented well to the camera, were articulate and spoke excellent English. Thanks Nam for the invitation. It was great to be part of your classroom.

 

 

Transforming Education for Humanity Conference – Vizag, India

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“There is something culturally humbling about sitting down to a hot lunch, in a foreign country, having intense educational discussions with a fellow teacher who eats with his fingers whilst I use cutlery and serviette.”

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The UNESCO_MGIEP inaugural conference took place in Visakhapatnam, Inda and was organised by UNESCO Mahatma Ghandi Institute of Education for Peace (MGIEP). The aim of the conference was to

provide a unique platform for learners and experts from across the globe including Ministers of education, information & communications technology and youth as well as senior policy makers, entrepreneurs, education technology providers, teachers, teacher educators, education psychologists, researchers and neuroscientists to collaborate, innovate and work towards transforming education for humanity.

The conference was brought to my attention when I was invited to a brunch for global educators at ISTE in June this year. Brochures promoting the conference were placed on the tables.  ISTE supported the conference.

“The World is Our Classroom” was the topic of my presentation submitted for approval. It was accepted, so plans were made for travel; and time release, in the form of long service leave from school, was requested.

The conference was inspiring.  For the first time in a face to face environment, fair complexioned skins were the minority and often a novelty. Despite my age, people approached me for selfies!!! The biggest proportion of attendees were from the Indian community, representing many different schooling types, languages/dialects and districts. There were more than 55 countries represented and 1400+registered attendees.

mixed participants in session

Highlights:- There were many but following are some of them:

    • Immersing with so many different cultures, languages, backgrounds and religions.
    • Attending sessions that involved interpreters. It was fascinating to hear the different languages.
    • slides which featured both English and one of the Indian languages – Hindi, Tamil etc.

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  • being reminded of the poverty and trying conditions that many teachers in India, Bangladesh, Africa etc work under. Many schools do not have electricity. Many parents are illiterate but still want the best for their children.
  • panel discussions from some of the world experts in a many fields involving technology eg gaming, robotics, AV and VR, Makerspaces etc
  • Being a participant in a session that involved both Chinese and Russian presenters. The Russian presenters were sharing their research and experience in Artificial Intelligence.

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  • The conference had a mix of Ministers of Education, ICT administrators, entrepreneurs, researchers, neuroscientists, policy makers, educators and best of all quite a number of students – some quite young as participants.
  • Ability to collaborate, innovate and work towards transforming education for humanity with many of the above participants.
  • The mix of topics and choices available to participants.
  • a tour of Vizag on the conference buses with a multicultural mix – Indians, Filipinos, a teacher from Azerbaijan – all eager to learn more about each other as we rode on the bus and stopped at the tourist attractions.
  • The Novotel conference centre is situated on Beach road, with only the road separating it from the sea  and its beautiful views.
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  • Meeting people who were also staying in my hotel, Winsar Park hotel, opposite the King George Hospital. Many of these people were also attendees or presenters at the conference.

Staying in hotel that had been highly recommended by Indian people on Trip Advisor. It was clean, had complementary breakfast (predominantly delicious Indian food). kind and helpful staff and a restaurant that stayed open until 11pm at night. (This was useful as sometimes I did not get back until 10pm)

Challenges

  • coping with the different accents even though the common language was English and trying to make sure each of us understood each other.
  • the queues were long at lunchtime – often 1 hour or more, queues. However,  this did provide an opportunity to meet others and continue conversations on education and backgrounds.
  • determining what name I call people. The name tags showed a first name and last name but sometimes the culture they were from, reversed the sequence of names.
  • working our way around the Novotel conference centre. However, there were many volunteers who did a great job to guide us. Some sessions had to be rescheduled due to inability of participants to find the correct room.
  • overcoming my fears-of getting lost,missing my flights,  making myself understood, suffering gastro from a changed diet, how trustworthy are my drivers (uber, cab and tuc tuc drivers) etc

Cultural differences:

  • hearing a variety of native languages being spoken around the conference centre
  • evidence of tight security. The conference was officially opened by the Chief Honourable Minister for Andhra Pradesh. Numerous police, security guards and the army equipped with large guns were everywhere inside and outside during this time. The volunteers and workers for the conference, formed a human chain as he walked through the exit near the conference participants.
  • Women were clothed in saris, with legs covered either by the saris or leggings. There was little evidence of Western style dresses.
  • Getting to the conference in the local transport – autocabs (or I would call them tuc tucs) and trying to make the driver know where I needed to go.
  • Working out the meaning of the horizontal head nods – was it yes or no or something else?
  • The spicy foods – I was told by those who lived in India that Andhra Pradesh food was amongst the most spicy of foods in India. I did enjoy their food but avoided any that obviously had red chilies in them and I drank lots of water!!!!

 

25 years since the first txt msg

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It is now 25 years since the first text message. Read the article on 25 years since txt messaging

This was a great trigger for learning and to get students to share how they now use text, spelling and grammar for messaging. Here is what the lesson looked like:-

  • I spoke about my experiences in getting a television for the first time, and seeing a computer for the first time.
  • Students had to guess what the very first message actually was.
  • We read the Herald Sun article on 25 years since txt messaging as a class.
  • Students discussed some of the points raised in this article.
  • They then proceeded to follow the instructions below.

Student tasks:-

  1. Create at least 6 elements of a txt conversation, including emojis, images or whatever else you would use when you txt each other
  2. Insert speech bubbles into word to share each element of the conversation
  3. Use the snipping tool to create an image of the conversations>save in your folder
  4. Add your snipped etxt to this padlet. Double click on the wall, add your first name in the header
  5. Click the + button and upload your images

It can be seen that the snipped text did not create a clear image. Students have been asked to do it again, increase the text and take another snapshot. If you are reading this post and have students it would be great if they could add them to this wall as well.

Skypethon – without students!

Australia is not an easy country to connect due to our time zone. Australia, after New Zealand, is one of the first countries to greet a new date and day across the world.

There were a number of times, when I was able to connect with other classes of students. The first was with Masterwide 10, Kavali near Nellore in South India and it must have been 2am in the morning for them, 7:30am my time. After brief  introductions, we shared conversations, but they had technical issues so the connection was cut short.

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Another visit to India was with Sebastian Panakal at St Mary’s public school, a 5 hour train journey from Kerala. It was interesting to speak with one of the head teachers, Ashik and another younger teacher and compare our education systems. It was fascinating to see one of the women deliver them their morning tea, whilst we spoke.

One of my network, created a Skyeathon group in Messenger. Many impromptu requests were made. One was from Dondi in Hungary where her students were eagerly waiting to share their folk songs with others. One was played on the flute and the other was sung to me.

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Steve Auslander’s class were fascinated with the fact that I lived in their tomorrow. They had 10 minutes to connect before their school day finished and mine was about to start. One of his girls was really keen to come to Australia, so I sent a picture of a koala that had been in our driveway several days earlier.

 

Despite the dates for the Skypeathon having finished in Australia, the USA schools were still in November 29th, so  two calls were made to them  just before my school started and their school day finished.

One was a spontaneous request from Kyle Calderwood and his class who had 10 minutes before their next call. The second call was from Andrea Friend – a call that had been organised via Skype in the Classroom website. Both times I was able to share my screen with them and quickly show them some of our farm and wildlife.

Kyle Calderwood and his class.

Andrea Friend and her class

I love to travel and I love to learn. The Skypeathon provided both opportunities – one day I will try and work out how many miles we covered in total!!

Skypeathon – Day 2 Afternoon

This was a busy afternoon with contacts in India requesting connections. Unfortunately, Victoria is in Daylight Saving time which pushes us 5.5 hours ahead of India. Therefore there was only a 1.5 hour opportunity of synchronous class time. My senior classes have finished school, but as I had a ‘replacement’ year 9 class. They connected for the first 50 minutes with a couple of girls who had finished their work connecting for the last 40 minutes. Remarkably we were able to fit a number of connections in.

Anu Sharma and her students from New Delhi, India shared a little about India and then students from both sides interacted with questions.

Next, it was a connection with Masterwide from India. They treated us to colourful dances and shared a little of their culture.


The next connection was with a private senior school in New Delhi, India. Their teacher is Arti Chopra, a fellow master Skype teachers. Her students asked quite sophisticated questions of the two year 8 girls, including what policies our government has for looking after our older people, how technology is used in disaster management etc, but Angelina was able to respond and ask similar questions of them.

The final call for our school day was from Anamika Jha, also from India. Her students shared some talents, asked us questions, sang their national anthem and to our consternation, asked us to sing ours. We do not sing our national anthem as often as we should, students are rather shy of singing and when students do sing it, it is accompanied by a taped recording. However, the two girls, to their credit did sing.

These skype linkups all worked well. They were spontaneous on our part, organised on India’s part but students love to learn from each other. The #studentvoice can be powerful and connections like these help them to collaborate beyond classroom walls.

Day 2 Skypeathon: in the morning

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This was a hectic day with many requests having come in from India. As we are in daylight saving, it pushed our times 5.5 hours apart. With only 1.5 of actual synchronous school time with India, it meant the connections were only 15 to 20 minutes in length which was not enough time. This post will describe the morning events.

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First call was with Shiva, from India, who put together some amazing options for people to connect with his school – a cultural extravaganza,  a virtual field visit or mystery skype.  We chose the cultural extravaganza where we were treated to cultural dances, drumming and flute playing. The stage was set beautifully and once we got through the technical issues of not being able to hear the music, my students were treated to an extravaganza or Indian culture. Shiva had paid great attention to detail with colourful cards introducing the connection and a great online site and posters set up to promote it.

class watching

Next stop – Sri Lanka

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flag and class with aussie flag

This was a game of mystery skype with Roshan Kumar. Roshan’s student worked out our country well before we determine his. We eventually asked for clues as students immediately thought India (judging by appearances). One of the clues was that they live on an island, so Taiwan was mentioned but the second clue was that it was to the east of India.

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There was a few minutes for sharing of cultural objects and information. My students were really interested in the description of their flag and the reason for the lion and all its features appear as it did. Roshan’s student asked “What is something unique about Australia” and we responded our animals ie koalas, kangaroos, emus, platypus etc. They responded that hospitality was one of their unique features.

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tim with roshan

Next Up – a busy, busy afternoon