Sunday, April 10, 2011

Find of the Week

Psykopaint is a great online art creator that is fun for the kids to use. They can upload their own photos, use photo URLs or sample photos from the website to base their artwork on. Then, using various brush styles (based on famous artists like Van Gogh, Monet, etc.), they can transform their photo into an abstract work of art.

I used it as an optional blog task and also as an in-class computer task and the kids really got into it! They loved playing around with different styles and mixing them together. It would be a great site to work into an artist appreciation lesson sequence.

This one took just 5 minutes to put together:

BEFORE

AFTER

To read more on how to use Psykopaint in the classroom, click here. Definitely a resource worth using!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quick Ideas Collaboration

This week, I've used Wallwisher as an optional blog task. On Wallwisher, students can share short pieces of information on 'sticky notes' that can be viewed as a wall. When used in the right way, this could be a great source for students to quickly collaborate. A great place to jot down ideas!

Below is my class' efforts so far. Their stimulus was 'What is your favourite book and why?'

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blogging across classes

I'm in a pickle.

At my school, all Year 5 and Year 6 students are split up into four 5/6 composite classes. It is a great way for students to socialise with a wider circle of friends and interact with syllabus content through rich, in-depth learning experiences. By presenting content over two years instead of one, teachers do not unnecessarily repeat certain areas of the syllabus. In many ways, students are given the opportunity to really immerse themselves in topics. This is particularly true for subjects like HSIE, where the same skills are taught each year, but students are given a longer period of time to learn about their topic (this year, it's gold and natural disasters) and in a more in-depth way (student-centred research tasks following Bloom's Taxonomy).

The pickle comes as a result of all teachers teaching the same content across the four classes. In most ways, it is fantastic and I prefer it. It means we all share the programming, homework tasks and resource searching, there are four heads, not one, and we all have our own interests which provide richer teaching in the various KLAs. But in one way, it has been difficult.. how do you run a class blog when all classes are doing the same thing?

I couldn't pass up the opportunity of finally having my own class and not running a blog for my students to be involved with. At the same time, I couldn't ask the other three teachers to all of a sudden learn about blogging and run their own class blog (one teacher is in their last year of teaching and another one arrived late in the term). As a result, I have started up a 5/6 blog so that no classes miss out. This means that there are over 100 students commenting each week (majority of my team are eager to learn how to moderate their own class' comments as of this week which will be a load off).

Here is my problem: I am itching to use web 2.0 tools in the classroom and use them as part of the class blog. But the pickle is that I cannot ask the three other class teachers to teach their students how to use any tool that I teach my class when they most likely aren't interested in it. They all have enough on their plate already.

Right now, I am setting a homework task each week which all students must complete. It is working well, but it only allows for them to comment based on stimulus.

So, do I set homework tasks where students are asked to use web 2.0 tools on their own, do I keep my blog running as is or do I go ahead with my own class lessons and post my class' efforts online anyway?

Suggestions would be very welcome!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kindy's (Technological) A-Z

Our librarian emailed Kindy's new A-Z. Hooray for technology!

(Click on the image for a closer look)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Exposition Writing Link - Graphic Organiser

With NAPLAN looming in the not-too-distant future, I'm trying to get my students to have a firm grasp of the concept of supporting their exposition (persuasive writing) arguments with at least two or three supporting statements per paragraph. I've come across aMap which I will be setting as optional homework this week. It's a great way for students to organise their arguments and will hopefully help them to remember to add more than just a topic sentence for each paragraph! Students will be emailing me their finished result. I can't wait to get computers up and running in my classroom!!!

Click here to see my example aMap.

(I love their slogan - 'causing arguments since 2008')

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Find of the Week

Yesterday, I was quickly looking for some algorithms practice sheets for revision and I came across WorksheetWorks.com. While I don't agree with relying on worksheets too much in the classroom, there are a lot of great resources that you can generate to suit your lessons (e.g. choosing the size of the numbers, type of working out to be done, variety of questions asked etc.). There are sheets for most KLAs and each comes with an answer key, including the working out that students will need to do. And it's free! A great site to keep in your bookmarks.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Introducing the new 5/6 Teacher!

It was extreme excitement this week that I accepted a position as a Year 5/6 teacher at a local school. This year, I will be teaching alongside three other teachers, all of us on 5/6 composite classes. And if getting a position first year out of university in my local area wasn't enough, on top of that, I've also moved into a brand new classroom!

While there are still a few things that need to be organised (ie. getting an IWB, bins for the room, any shelving, a clock, tote trays, computers etc.), I'm so excited to start creating a classroom that is tailored to my teaching style and the learning styles of students. I really want to make it a space where the students feel comfortable, and are immersed in their learning experiences. This means that, among other things, I'm trying to decide what types of areas/wall displays/desk arrangements to have in my room that will help my students to do their absolute best this year.

What have you done in your classroom to cater for your students' learning styles?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Starting With a Clean (and Very Bare) Slate!

My routine holiday sleep-in was interrupted yesterday with a call telling me that one of our local schools might have positions vacant. After three borderline harassment phone calls and an email stating my case, I received a return call from the principal offering the possibility of a block of teaching on either a Year 4 or 5-6 composite class. I was to go in on Monday to start on the Year 4 class (who will still be in their class groups from the previous year) for the first few days and by the end of the week, the principal will have decided where to put me (and I assume that's if they feel that I'm right for the school).

After the happy dance was thrown, however, a little twinge in my stomach started niggling away. First of all, in my moment of excitement on the phone, I forgot to ask how long the blocks would be for - meaning I forgot to establish whether I should quit my second job. Secondly, in my eagerness to say 'YES' to anything I was being asked, I forgot to clarify whether that meant I would definitely be getting a position at the end of the week - meaning planning will be a little tricky. And thirdly, the classes are the same from the year before while the school waits for the numbers to settle - meaning I could have a different class at the end of next week (or at least I think that's what would happen?!). More clarification is definitely needed.

All this aside, the first thing I have done is establish what to do on my first day. @davidwees led me to whatedsaid's post on 10 things to do on the first day of school, which was a great starting point, reminding me that I want to keep my classroom student-centred. This means I will have the students come to an agreement on appropriate/inappropriate behaviour in the classroom on their own, I will share my expectations with them and listen to what they expect in return, I will  foster a friendly environment, listen to their stories, and have them work in groups to start off with.

In the classroom, I will be fine on the first day. But what is unsettling me is the organisation - do I use workbooks if classes might change by the end of the week? Do I set up a classroom and start decorating with artwork if I may not even be in it next week? Do I establish the rules system thoroughly if I may have to do it all again next Monday? What about homework, spelling words, letters to parents, planning? I literally have no idea what is planned this year, and won't find out until that morning what is planned for them, while I won't know what is planned for me until the end of the week. It's a tough one!

I think my main concern is not being able to tell the students and parents exactly where I will be by the end of the week. Ideally, I'd love to have information ready to hand out to the parents on the first day telling them what is in store for their children this year. But not knowing that, I'm worried that I will come across as having no idea what is happening (and while that may be the truth, I'd like to at least make the first impression that I am on the ball with such matters). Hopefully, I will be able to squeeze enough time before school out of one of the other grade teachers to establish what is happening with the Year 4 classes at the end of the week so that I can at least tell the students what they will be doing.

I think it will be a very interesting first day!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Future of Mathematics Education

Just another reason to focus on presenting mathematics in real-life contexts. Applicability, applicability, applicability!

Arthur Benjamin's view of mathematics education:


Monday, December 13, 2010

Writing Fun

I was introduced to Writing Fun while on one of my teaching pracs and found it a great source in the classroom. Writing Fun is an interactive website to use with all primary stages. Teachers can use it to teach and review the various text types typically covered in the classroom.

Each text type is described in detail based on their characteristics. Students can then go on to view an example associated with their year group, running their cursor over different writing characteristics (i.e. tense, style, word focus etc.).

I've found this a useful link to use on the IWB to introduce a text type to students. Click on the picture below to have a look!