Tag Archives: Lorraine Leo

“Peace Across the World” – A Global Message


Lorraine Leo from the USA and  Yoshiro Myata, Japan, the founder of the World Museum Project requested us to compose messages for “Peace Across the World” for the World Peace Song project partners at the beginning of the peace workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, February 3.

In this World Peace Song workshop the focus will be on creating a peace song for Syrian children. We look forward to sharing your messages of peace and our beautiful World Peace Song with workshop attendants in Thailand.

As time was short, students in year 7 were asked to compile their thoughts. It was then  shared as a text update on the  World Museum Edmodo networking site. Following is the collaborative message from my students:

Peace is awesome. Peace is the most wonderful thing to share with the world and is definitely something we need more of. It is about giving, helping each other out, enjoying ourselves and others and not fighting. Peace is when everybody is happy and working as a team. Peace is what we all want and shows with happiness and laughter all around the world.

What would your message be?

It’s 30 degrees – global weather contradictions!

summer here
path between snow

It is 30 degrees in Boston, USA according to Lorraine Leo, a teacher there but she showed photos of snow. My students related that it will be 30 and 31 degrees here in southern Australia, but that meant it would quite a hot day for us! How could this be?

It was the first ICT class for year 8 ICT – a group of 23 students. I like how Reinhard Marx in Germany introduces his students to global connections in their very first week of school to set the scene for a year of global collaboration and communication.

A skype chat with a great colleague, Lorraine Leo alerted me to the fact that she had just been notified that there was no school that day due to the heavy snow falls in Boston, USA. This was the second consecutive day this week and students had also missed school last week for 2 days due to snow. A couple of nights ago Australian television news actively highlighted the potential weather extremes on New York City.

Always aware of using up online colleagues’ spare time to connect with my students, I asked whether she might skype us the next morning to share the weather and snow falls with my year 8 class.

cars in the snow at night

Lorraine kindly agreed and we discussed the possible tools. We would start with a mystery skype, using skype, then use the virtual classroom software, Blackboard Collaborate to share images, Lorraine’s audio to present and enable students to use the chat to ask questions, provide feedback on the images and generally share. As a backup I created a backchannel in Todaysmeet Whatweather for conversations and skype would be used for the video projection. (we did not use this during the presentation but in the last 8 mins of class time, students quickly answered some questions that I put in there).

Students were quick to work out where Lorraine was from. They then logged into Blackboard Collaborate. However, we faced technical hitches as many computers had to download the launcher and experienced a slow bandwidth, took a long time to do so. We perservered and started with the presentation, with some students sharing desktops!

Lorraine expertly talked about the current conditions and had some wonderful photos to share with the students. Students asked some great questions in the chat, were quiet, engaged and listened intently. The subject of 30 degree temperatures was compared and what a great global lesson – different countries have different units of measurement!

Below are the comments from the students sharing what they liked about this synchronous lesson and some of what they learnt!

Kailyn:  I liked that we are talking to someone from another country and learning a bit about the different things that happen. I learnt that it is snowing there at the moment while here it is rather sunny and that over there it is night time, and here it is morning as we have just started school.

Dharma:- liked the part of the pictures of how big the snow is, and telling us about the schools sometimes being closed off.

Lisa: It was good to see the photos so I could see what Lorraine was actually talking about. Mrs Leo explained things really well.

Kyra: choose where the person was from. She said it really clearly and showed the photos of what the snow looked like especially as I have never seen snow.

Chelsea: I liked how we could see the pictures and I have never seen snow before so it was interesting to see it through pictures.

Sophie: I liked seeing the pictures and seeing what it is like in Boston.

Vesna: I liked using BbC as it is easy to connect with someone rather than skype which can glitch easily. I liked the way she presented it as we had pictures to see what it looked like and not just telling us about it which made it more interesting. I liked the flowers representing spring with the icicles in the window.

Isaac: The snow was pretty cool! It looks pretty fun! I liked the church picture with the person skiing in front of.

Kyle: I liked seeing how much snow there was. I liked learning about what happens in Boston from someone who lives there. The people walking on the pathway to their house with snow piled up on both sides.

Jonas: I liked seeing how much snow there was around the houses and seeing how high the snow was. I liked the people walking to their houses with the snow piled hight.

Zac: I liked the pictures of the snow and the one with the man snowboarding on the hill where a church was located.

Terri, I liked all the pictures of the snow. It was really interesting. I wish it would snow here. I learnt that snow can be very heavy and lie in big heaps.

Skyla: I liked seeing all the snow because we do not get it here. It was interesting to see how cold it gets. I learned that it snowed in Boston. I thought it was always hot. As when I visited USA it was really hot.

Teneika: I learnt that there was snow in America because my Dad’s family live in America and they have never mentioned snow. I liked how she had pictures as she was talking so you could see rather than just listen.

Lucy:  That my technology worked and I got into BbC. Mrs Leo took time to speak to us. I liked seeing the snow as it is a novelty to us. I learnt that it is a lot different over there like weatherwise at the minute.

Taylah: I liked every picture that was shown , was explained by Mrs Leo. I learnt that it is snowing over there, so the students cannot go to school and have 2 days off last week and 2 days off this week.

Caitlin: I liked how she taught us about Boston- the weather and what she does in her spare time and that she is a teacher. I found it interesting that it snows over there and that she has 238 students in her school.

Thank you Lorraine for allowing me to use the photos that you took the time to take for us. As you can see, the students frequently commented on seeing what it looked like rather than hearing what it was like! A memorable photo was this one, of roses (a sign of spring) in a florist shop with the tell tale signs of the current weather conditions (icicles) in the window.

roses with icicles

A Glimpse into “A Day in the Life of a Connected Educator”

It started as a normal, fairly mundane school day………

Well connected teachers will  find there are many ways to learn, share and teach, teachable moments arise constantly and interruptions to normal routines may become the norm. Yesterday was one such day, when normal classes were planned and a relaxing night at home anticipated, but….

World Museum Scratch Day Saturday, May 18th

Year 8 students are participating in  the Squares, Circles and Triangles project for the World Museum Project to celebrate World Scratch day. Students take photos of shapes in the real world and add them as a sprite to Scratch, highlighting the shape first and then sharing the whole picture. See an online animated sample.

Circles-Storage  tanks for firewood

Circles-Storage tanks for firewood

However, this project is quite challenging and as I am not confident with the programming elements, we had to impulsively skype my wonderful online colleague – Lorraine Leo from Boston, USA to help us in our dilemmas. My laptop webcam shared the screens of students with Lorraine so that she could see what the student was doing, speak to them and help them solve their problems. The lesson time was not long enough. So a sample student project was emailed to Lorraine for further investigation in consultation with Yoshiro Miyata, the creator from Japan.

Lorraine from USA  (in laptop) virtually teaches Amy how to solve her problem with Scratch

Lorraine from USA (in laptop) virtually teaches Amy how to solve her problem with Scratch

Brendah from Sth Africa shared her lesson on learning cell references in MS Excel with grade her 2s with the HLW Skypers Group in the chat area of skype. Joe McNulty of Pennsylvania USA, joined our conversation. Within 6 hours he had shared a google document containing more mystery picture challenges that his year 7/8 students had created for Brendah’s young students. It was on impulse that I decided to use these tasks with my year 3/4 ICT class after lunch. Students were highly engaged colouring in reference cells to reveal the mystery pic. They discovered a house, faces, a flag, a rainbow etc if they followed instructions carefully.

A rainbow in progress

A rainbow in progress

Images of Brendah’s and my students working on the tasks were emailed to Joe who then shared them with his students, resulting in them being even more motivated in creating further tasks. Joe has now put some of these up on his google site.

Home at last!

Enjoying the last remnants of my evening meal, I noticed a message in my HLW Skypers Group popup seeking people to ‘jump’ in and join a hangout with Reinhard  Marx and a class from Germany. The students were about to share their learning about “German Islands and the drinking water situation”.

The group skype request from Reinhard

The group skype request from Reinhard

I joined the hangout on my laptop as our desktop computer has been playing up and fully expected to be ejected from it due to my poor bandwidth. Surprisingly I was able to stay in but not able to use my video, nor see the screen sharing from Germany, but….. I could hear and speak to them. In the hangout were Endang from Western Java, Indonesia and Linlin from Taiwan. With me being from Australia, the foreign participants all came from islands – some small, some large and learnt about islands in Germany.

where islanders get their water from

Islands of Germany water

Students from Germany had prepared Powerpoint slides. Reinhard shared his screen with us via the Ghangout. Groups came forward and spoke to the slides and their pictures in clear English. Linlin and I then spoke about the importance of water, issues where we live and how we conserve it.

A small group shares with us

A small group shares with us

Next, a skype message came from Endang to see whether I could help her Indonesian students speak English to a native speaker. Two students introduced themselves to me, answered my many questions and then asked me questions. The chat in skype helped ensure that we understood each other reasonably well!

English speaking girl

An ordinary day turned into a very exciting one in an amazing global classroom! How was your day?

Boston in Lockdown

This was the title of a presentation that a close online colleague of mine, Lorraine Leo and I made collaboratively for the Global Education Conference in 2010. In 2012, we share a presentation entitled Further Adventures of Teaching and Learning Across the Globe.

It is with some surrealness and eerieness that after many of our synchronous and asynchronous linkups, that have included many, many adventures including live linkups during  floods and hurricanes etc experienced by Lorraine and her contacts, that I am now chatting to her in gchat whilst she is in lockdown mode as police move in on capturing the suspects involved in the recent Boston bombings.  Here is some of Lorraine’s conversations.

http://www.wcvb.com/  We are in lockdown… this is how we are keeping updated.  We live in Watertown, but many areas here are affected. It is soooo quiet outside in this neighborhood, but from the news we can see that 10 minutes away there are a lot of people

She discovered that she was in lockdown through an email from another friend in Australia.

I asked Lorraine how she is keeping up to date with the news and she responded that the twitter hashtag #bostonglobe and the news channels including CNN and the Boston Channel are her source of information.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you Lorraine and all who are affected by this tragedy.

Learning Beyond the News

How wonderful it is that we can make great global connections. One such special colleague of mine is Lorraine Leo who is an innovative, generous and well connected educator from Massachusetts. Lorraine took a video outside her window of the wind as Hurricane Sandy approached. Immediately following the recent Hurricane Sandy, her son Chris, of New York, took some photographs of his area with the mobile phone, added them to voicethread, giving my students and others across the world an opportunity to ask further questions of someone who had experienced this natural disaster.

You can see the result in the voicethread. Thanks Chris for sharing with us and ‘making the news real’.

Processes involved in global collaboration

Global education is a personal passion. Tonight’s #globalclassroom twitter chat looked at “Scaffolding learning from class to world” – a fascinating topic that Laurie Renton in a blog post What is Global Taxonomy teased apart for us with a number of questions. One question that sticks out firmly in my mind is “Is there a progression of global collaboration?”

I experienced one step in that progression today – talking to a class of students through an interpreter. My friend, Lorraine Leo was the main presenter from Boston, USA and the class of students were in Japan. This was my first experience of working through an interpreter and an interesting one.

How it looked!

  1. Professor Yoshiro Miyata, who I met through Lorraine, and creator of the World Museum Project, invited me to speak to some students along with Lorraine, using skype or google hangout. However, google hangouts are heavy on bandwidth, so I asked for skype. Unfortunately, I could not use my video due to poor sound quality
  2. Lorraine shared her screen with Japan and talked about her use of Scratch with her class and beyond by sharing images. This included our collaboration recently on the World Dot Project.
  3. Lorraine would speak a few sentences and then pause for Yoshiro to interpret.
  4. Then, it was my turn. I spoke a little, paused and could hear Yoshiro interpret. When I felt he had finished I started speaking again. I have no knowledge of Japanese, so it was very much a guessing game, especially as I spoke to a blank screen.

Up until now, I have found classes where teachers have some grasp of the English language – enough to get by in simple connections. However, this was the first time that English was not spoken. Teachers who are interested in genuine global collaboration, will need to learn how to work with an interpreter and how to do so in all situations – virtual and face to face! Another competency for me to work on!

Have you ever worked in a situation that required an interpreter? What advice would you give?

Going ‘dotty’ with a mobile teacher!

Hands were up all over the classroom from students new to Scratch trying to complete their sprite. Patiently the teacher moved around the room, answering those questions.  But………….. the teacher ……..

  1. was not in the physical classroom, but moved around the room, on the screen of an iPad using skype
  2. lived 1000’s of kilometres away in Boston USA (my class is in south eastern Australia)

Taking it back an hour…..Sometimes, I think nothing more amazing can happen with technology in the classroom, but it continues on! I had just been chatting on skype to Lorraine Leo who had encouraged me to get students involved in the World Museum Dot Project for International Dot Day. However, I am not at all confident or competent with Scratch. Then, the bell went and it was time to teach year 7 ICT.

Thinking this was a great and simple way to introduce students in Year 7 to Scratch, the students as usual push the software tool to the boundaries to create what they want their desired outcomes. And so, the students had lots of questions. Most chose to use the editing pad in Scratch but a few created a dot in MS Paint, some sprites had to be cropped, some had mutliple sprites using them to combine into one etc! Unfortunately, I could not answer the questions and my first reaction was to skype Lorraine and see if she was still online. This is a class of 26 students and I had to lend one of the students my laptop as he did not have access to a desktop or netbook. 

Yikes! that meant I could not use my laptop to skype, as I usually do! I suddenly remembered my iPad and quickly logged onto skype on it. The front camera was used to introduce the student to Lorraine and then the back camera was used by the student to show Lorraine their screen whilst talking through their questions and problems. As Lorraine finished speaking to one student, she was passed onto the next. Sometimes a second student had to hold the iPad still, so that the requesting student could use the keyboard and computer screen to do what Lorraine was telling them.

Three heads, four hands collaborate to solve the problem!

At one stage, two girls took Lorraine out into the corridor so they could quite clearly hear her instructions. The 50 minute lesson soon finished and most students completed their sprite ready for me to upload to the World Museum site.

Highlights of the first time use of skype on an iPad in the classroom.

  • The intriguing part was that they students did not bat an eyelid or even look  amazed! They just treated Lorraine like their teacher in the physical classroom and not the virtual one that she was, one who lived worlds away, in another day and another time zone.
  • the mobility of the iPad meant that the students could remain in their seats and share their work
  • the problems were solved NOW. Time was not wasted trying to find answers etc.
  • the two camera options on the iPad were fabulous to work with in this environment.
  • individualized learning at its best.

Thanks Lorraine for being a great team teacher for us and giving up your precious night time. We are successfully ‘dotty’ now! Have you used a mobile teacher? If you have an iPad how do you use the functionality of the two cameras? How can we take such an experience further?

The changing face of teaching!

This year I teach ICT or computer studies to years 4 and 5 students for one lesson per week.

Vesna's sprite

Vesna's sprite

Lorraine Leo, a long term colleague,  also teaches this age group at Jackson School in USA. Hoping that we could work together on some global project, Lorraine suggested we get involved in the World Friends Scratch project.

Knowing that the grade 4/5 boys (who tend to be disengaged in the normal classroom) would like working with Scratch, I agreed.  However, I have never put time aside to sit down and learn how to use it, despite being highly interested in its use.

Soon after, grade 4/5 went to the library to watch a skype videoconference linkup with Lorraine and her student Lana from USA. It was Wed night at 7:30pm Lana’s time and Thursday 11:30am our time. Students watched intensely as Lana used the screen share facility of skype and stepped us through the creation of a sprite, how to make it move and how to add speech bubbles that would appear when it bumps another sprite.

At the end of this presentation, students were able to ask Lana questions and 50 minutes disappeared very quickly. Just as the bell went, Lana took her laptop to the window to show us the snow that had fallen outside. Despite the darkness we could see it quite clearly.

Blake's sprite

Blake's sprite

Students then proceeded to create their sprites during following ICT lessons. Lorraine created two screencasts which quite clearly demonstrated the steps required and emailed them to me. The links to these were shared on my class blog. Students were able to work at their own pace and as some students completed the tasks, they mentored the others. I became a facilitator and simply watched the learning begin and blossom.

The first group of students have now completed their sprites, tested them and some were uploaded to the public gallery on Thursday, ready to be transferred to the World Friends site global project site.

What we learnt

  • Digital citizenship – the necessity to make our sprites resemble our own persona. One student had made an animal sprite, another gave their body a different colour. They were changed to bear a greater likeness to themselves for global sharing.
  • How to use screen casts effectively. How to use video tutorials that Lorraine Leo created to help them learn.
  • Students can become effective instructors and mentors, even when they are virtual.  They talk to each other in their own language.
  • The necessity to follow each of these steps or the sprite would not talk when bumped.
  • Expertise no longer matters if a teacher has a strong learning network

Why it worked so well

  • The engagement of student learning with technology –
  • having an American student teach them virtually
  • working with a tool that is not obviously literacy or numeracy based
  • having experts teach the students – both Lana via skype and Lorraine via the screencasts
  • students mentoring other students within the classroom.
  • A real project with an authentic audience

How does this fit the pedagogy of learning? (adpated from the ISTE NETS standards for students)

Students will

    • use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively on a global scale,  to support individual learning
    • contribute to the learning of others
    • connect, interact, collaborate and publish with global peers, experts and general community members, including family.
    • use a variety of media and digital environments to connect, communicate and create.
    • share learning spaces
    • communicate information and ideas effectively to a variety of digital audiences using a variety of media and formats
    • develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners from other cultures.
    • Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.
Screen shot of the World Friends website

Screen shot of the World Friends website

    Do you have any questions? Please email them to innovatorofthemonth@gmail.com or add a comment below. Have you used scratch? If so, how? Has there been an element of global collaboration?

Oh me, of little faith!

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This week, I was fully reminded of the fact that I should never, ever doubt the ability of students and what they can achieve when highly motivated and engaged. Thinking it would be great to blend two classes – one in Boston, USA and mine in Hawkesdale Australia in a virtual classroom, it was suggested to Lorraine Leo, my great colleague in USA. Lorraine suggested Friday 16th our time, or Thurs night 15h March, their time. Yikes! That was only two days away and we had nothing organised.

The challenges

  • That was only two days notice.
  • the interesting mixed collection of students in my year 9/10 ICT elective class
  • the student mixed ability levels
  • lack of time to practise, rehearse etc.
  • our continuing problems with sound on the student netbooks (they had just been reghosted and handed back to students)

As there was one single, precious lesson prior to the online session, we tested sound/audio/access/application sharing/use of web camera etc to Blackboard Collaborate, the webconferencing software tool to be used and also brainstormed some ideas on a wallwisher. However, the time was not long enough. Students were then told to bring their photos and scripts with them on Friday ready to share with their global counterparts.

Feeling quite nervous on Friday about whether:-

  • anyone had brought photos and more importantly how many had not done anything
  • they had anything to talk about and would they stutter, stumble and take frights (as many of these students are extremely shy)
  • they would behave online
  •  the webcam would be used to good effect
  •  the application sharing of pivot and some stored photos on student computers work etc…
  • sound/audio would all work

I was surprised to find all of them were all organised. They had taken time consuming, fascinating photos at home and on their farm, had brought products into share and wanted to come in at recess to get organised. Some of these are students who rarely complete homework! Here is what it all looked like.

  • an opening comment by Lorraine : Thank you for inviting us to Australia to visit your students.
  • Problems as always with sound – most students had to come to my laptop to speak and demonstrate
  • in my nervousness, I forgot to go through the tool bars and elements of Blackboard Collaborate at the beginning, but most seemed to work it out as we went a long.
  • A classroom of 21 participants, including Mrs Leo, the teacher from USA, 5 of her students, logging on from home (as it was 7:30pm at night for them), two adults from Japan – one  a university professor creator of a global project – World Friends with Scratch, the other a parent, a student teacher from Saskatchewan Canada; a parent of one of my students and Mrs Leo’s mother, an amazing 86 year old lady in blackboard collaborate for the first time. Such a blended classroom, made possible with technology.
  • my students presenting on topics such as:- Hawkesdale, my farm, my pets,our school, my interests, pivot and demonstrating sample student work, including quilting.
  • Once the initial nervousness dispersed, the obvious pride that my students took in sharing their passions, how well spoken they actually were and that they were all organised!
  • the support that students gave each other
  • the fast paced nature of the chat, where participants asked questions, gave feedback and generally shared across the globe.
  • interacting on the collaborative whiteboard to share names, farewells, favourite technology.
Despite being  pushed outside their comfort zones, students really enjoy interactions such as this. They find it fun and engaging and are curious about each other. Each person has a voice and is able to interact in the chat. A big thank you to our global participants for coming to learn about us and to Mrs Leo for her work in making it possible.
I love this comment from a thankyou email from Lorraine:-

 Thank you again!  I really appreciated your time and all of the behind the scenes work in putting the meetup together. I know that for many of my students and for Noriko and my mom, being in a Blackboard Collaborate room was a completely new experience.  Can you only imagine what it must be like for my mom — at 86!– listening to students all the way over in Australia!  She really enjoyed the experience and I’m sure will want to be included the next time there is a meetup.

Read the student reflections

  1. Georgia
  2. Rachael
  3. Sean
  4. Tamiko
  5. Kim
  6. Jess
  7. Ivy
  8. Aza
  9. Nathan

Here is the link to the recording

From Snow to Bushfires!

Demonstrating the windows phone

Year 9/10 students were today treated to a live linkup using discoverE with two of Lorraine Leo’s students who were to share their school. Yesterday, it was snowing in Boston, (See it’s snowing outside) when another of her students, taught my grade 4/5 IT class to program with Scratch. Today, it was our turn for extremes. A bushfire was in progress south of our school. The CFA students (who train to become junior firefighters) were on the bus to Warrnambool to work with the Station in there. Unfortunately, they were turned back as the fire was out of control at that stage.

This made a great conversation piece to start our session with Boston. We could share the online link to the  CFA fire map where the fire was clearly marked. Fortunately, it was under control at that stage.

Again the engagement of students was evident. They like to be logged on to their own computers and be able to interact in the chat and ask questions. After receiving a pictorial presentation of their school, students asked questions of each other either in the chat or live on the microphone. One of the boys from Boston, quickly went downstairs to get his windows mobile phone to show us. One of my girls mentioned that we were now into autumn. The response back was “Oh, are you now in Fall!”.

The final minutes were spent drawing on the whiteboard where students from across the globe drew their own pics of favourite technology in real time. Amazing! Thanks again Lorraine for your wonderful effort.