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ICT in action

What is happening in a school near you.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Great excitement

At last I have had over a 1000 hits on my blog! The children have been wondering when I would reach that number as their total on the Teddy blog is now over 1500!

I'm catching up boys and girls.

It all happens at once!!

Following on from our very successful day out at A'Chleit beach on Kintyre and the meeting up of the two classes for a wonderful teddy bears picnic, the buzz just keeps going. On Monday all the children wrote a report on their day out. To enable the children to complete their writing we used our normal maths time as well...bit of flexibility!

Marlyn and I met up at Inveraray on Monday evening. We need to collate nd organise all the material the children have produced for the blog in preparation for our seminar presentation at SETT in September. LTScotland are providing accommodation for our stay in Glasgow. Both Marlyn and I are hoping to become SSDN mentors for Argyll and Bute and on Tuesday attended the final Masterclass conference where Neil Stewart from RM spoke to us about SSDN in detail.

In order to attend the P1 induction meeting for parents at Dunoon Primary, I had to leave early so missed most of the SSDN content and discussion. Marlyn of course, Skyped me later and filled me in on what I had missed. I spent an interesting afternoon at Dunoon Primary and faced a larger than I am used to audience of parents, whose youngsters are starting their school adventure for the first time. Survived that and I even remembered quite a few people's names!

Today the children have been typing short messages for the blog. We were able to post a few in school and will add more tomorrow. Technical hitches first thing. We have returned the borrowed whiteboard to Mr Brown- but do not worry- we wheeled the new board into the classroom and rearranged things to fit (this is a bigger board). I then had to reinstall all the Promethean software as it just would not work...aarrrgghhh. Back on track after playtime having spent the break reinstalling it all.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Our blogging display

This is how our display is coming on in the classroom. After checking the sitemeter on the blog and the Clustermap we found more hits from around the world. The children added star labels to our world map. We then used Kidspiration displayed on the interactive whiteboard to bring up the flags we needed. The children then volunteered which flags they would make and in pairs began their tasks. They all did incredibly well- the paint was flowing and with a little artistic licence the flag factory was up and running. They added stars and emblems afterwards using sticky paper cut to shape and are very proud of their display. We have devised a quiz where all the names of the countries are on labels(created in Kidspiration by Owen and Samuel), which have to be matched to the correct flag- then find the country on the globe or world map.
Next week we are going to do a little research on each country and find out some facts-population, language spoken etc. For this we shall of course make use of the internet.

I have also been busy this week writing a case study for Digital Survey on behalf of LTScotland. I have written up my experiences of using Kidspiration which may be published. I shall let you know where and when it will be made available.

Teddy Bear Picnic is on Friday- weather forecast is not great. Today we practised singing the teddy bears picnic song using a midi-file as our accompaniment. What a difficult song to sing but we did our best-especially the speed at which the midi file went-hardly time to draw breath.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Doing time

A well worn phrase amongst us teachers with regard to the teaching of time. Contained in the Promethean software is a great interactive clock which enables speedy time changes at the click of a pen. I can change from digital to analogue- whizz round each pupil as I stab away at +hour -hour or 15 mins or half an hour. The main clock shows the actual time, much to the amazement of the children and they cheered when I put the clock on this morning.

We then went to the Enchanted Learning website. Here I explained to the children was where we could find some German vocabulary to learn so that we can impress Flappi the Tobermory crow who apparently speaks German as well as French. Today we practised counting to 5 and using compare bears learned some colours. The children were very keen to know how to say all sorts of things and when my distant memory of Higher German fails me I shall call on Mrs Perlich, our classroom assistant who speaks fluent German.

Ich habe IWB gern!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Blogs and bus tours

Despite the problems with the board the children remain to inspire me. Today Samuel and Owen in P3 began their work as journalists, writing the article for the 'CalMag'. Samuel feels extremely important having been given this task as he has already had an article appear in the Dunoon Observer earlier this year about our beanstalks.
As he wrote his section about the teddy project declaring that "a blog is a grate way for kids to learn about using computers" he told me about his efforts to increase the hits we will get on the teddy blog.

Samuel's parents have a lavender farm and a bus party were visiting at the weekend. He told the visitors that if they had a computer to go onto www.talkingteds.blogspot.com to see our blog. He was slightly disappointed that most of these elderly holidaymakers were without computers, but undaunted suggested if they knew any friends or family who had they could maybe get a sneaky peek at their house!

Try, try and try again!

Today the same thing happened. The drivers that connect the board to the computer had to be reinstalled and then disappeared again later in the day-drive you mad!@!@!
Next door in P4, Mrs Petty was trying out the new IWB for the first time. It worked last week when I set it up but today the calibration was acting up and sometimes the pen would work and sometimes it wouldn't...aarrgghh!

I am busy doing my reports and so far have been unable to print any of them. I have transferred to 3 different computers and tried 2 printers and no joy.

About to get in touch with my trusty friend for some advice.
Skype is a brilliant tool as you can instant message, exchange files as well as conference call and chat- all for the cost of your broadband access. When I get my problems resolved I shall of course let you in on the secrets.

Not a good day!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

If at first you don't succeed.........

On Thursday afternoon I fired up the IWB- (interactive whiteboard). It was choosing time and 2 of the children were raring to go on the board. For some unknown reason I was unable to get the computer to recognise the board therefore no interactivity. I checked all the leads/plugs etc, restarted everything- looked in the applications folder and checked the software to no avail.
On Friday I decided to uninstall the Promethean software and reinstall it using our own new software, hey presto, all working again. It is very strange as the computer had not been used since the day before when the board had worked fine. All the necessary components for the software appeared to be there, so who knows?

I now have a starting date for my new job. I finish at Tighnabruaich on the 9th of June and start at Dunoon Primary on the 12th. I have completed the National Tests at Level A that some of my class were ready to take and am well through my reports. I know the time will just fly in between now and the 9th as this term is always so busy.

I will be going to the Argyll and Bute Masterclass conference on the 30th May but only for the morning as I am attending the P1 induction afternoon at Dunoon Primary followed by a Parent's Meeting at the Grammar School with my youngest son who will be starting secondary in August.....all go!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Life is seldom dull

I got an e-mail today from CalMac who so kindly allowed Spencer to drive the Tarbert ferry on his way to Campbeltown. They want to do an article for their employee magazine 'CalMag" about the teddy project. I suggested that the children could write the article including photos and quotes. This means the children will have yet another audience for their work!
Our school trip has also been organised- a teddy bears' picnic with Castlehill P3 and Tighnabruaich P1/2/3 meeting up at a lovely beach on Kintyre for a fun day out. This will mark the end of the project but the blog will still be there for the world to see. The children are of course very excited about the prospect of meeting their friends on the blog.

I took part in a telephone conference call organised by LTScotland who are trying to discover the impact of the free software which was distributed to schools 2 years ago. I was rather nervous as I have not conferenced with people I do not know before but Nick Evans put all four of us at our ease. The conference took an hour and focused on the software we had made use of. I have been using Kidspiration and have delivered in-service courses for the authority on its use. I also sent some of my files to Jim Birney at Fife Education who has posted them on his authorities website. I have now been asked to submit a case study on how I have made use of it- purely voluntarily- so I just said OK. Glutton for punishment me- but I have decided that unless I give these sort of things a go, nothing ventured-nothing gained. You can see examples of the children using Kidspiration on the teddy blog of course.

Still no song on the blog. We haven't forgotten but at this time of year primary teachers have reports to write- well type as it is all done on computer. I do notice however that the secondary teachers at the school my children attend, appear to have a choice as many are handwritten! How quaint ;-)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

On track with Garageband?

This week we tried again to get sound on the blog. To this end P123 have recorded a track using Garageband and the built in microphone. After a few attempts and critical ears listening to the results, a rendering of 'The bear went into the orchard' has been made. Sounds pretty good. Now I am learning as I go along and the children are coming with me. Marlyn is a couple of steps ahead as she has already managed to get sound on the teddy blog with a bit of help from John at Sandaig Primary.
Next step was to turn the file from AIFF to MP3 so that it can go on the blog. Marlyn has talked me through part of the process for getting sound on and I have downloaded the necessary stuff....maybe later this evening.
I just hate all this technobabble. It gives me the heebiegeebies but I am amazed by what it can do and want to be able to get the kids songs on the blog! I also hate wires and putting software on computers! I still worry that I am doing the wrong thing. I set up our new Promethean whiteboard on Friday using all my McCrone time and then some. The set up instructions were not that clear but I managed to get all the wires in the right places. I did not initially install all the components of the software so it didn't work but later, after school I tried again with success. The board has a nifty, wheelable, very substantial stand and will work with all the eMacs in school. We really need the upgrade to OSX soon though as my classroom will soon have no computer that will work with the software. When I leave for Dunoon- my Masterclass laptop goes with me.
I mentioned that Marlyn and I will be presenting a seminar at SETT-The Scottish Learning Festival at the SECC in September. To find out more check out the LTScotland site.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Busy and exciting times ahead

I spent a day last week finding my way around Dunoon Primary School where I shall shortly be taking up my new post as Principal Teacher. With some trepidation tinged with excitement I was introduced to almost everyone in school during the course of the day. I am looking forward to this new challenge and having the opportunity to work with many more staff and children.
On my return to school today I felt quite emotional as the reality of the change dawns. My class were also beginning to express their feelings and thought that they would all be crying when I go. One of my P2's lives next door and he doesn't know how he will sleep if I am not there. I was able to reassure him that I was moving jobs but not house! Working in a small school the children are in your class for 2, 3 or even 4 years so you do build up a close relationship. At the weekend I met Julie who was one of my very first P1's, 22 years ago. She wished me well in my new job and chatted confidently. She is a structural engineer, working for a firm in Glasgow. Not so confident at the age of 4 when she cried every morning for 2 weeks when she started school at first, and so did her Mum- I too felt like crying! Ah the memories.
I shall have a P2 class at Dunoon which has always been my favourite infant stage. There will be lots to learn and colleagues to get to know. I hope to continue with ICT activities as an SSDN mentor. Marlyn and I have been asked to present a seminar on the TalkingTeds blog at SETT in September so life will certainly not be dull.