Category Archives: New Ideas

Diigo Groups application for the classroom.

Our final unit in year 8 Humanities focus on concept of Systems.  Looking at Rainforest, students inquire into the reasons that Rainforest are such an important part of our environment, yet they are constantly under threat by different people and for different reasons.

In order for the students to see the different perspective on Rainforest Deforestation, they pick a lens trough which they look at the unit. These steakkholders as we call them are roles like WWF, furniture makers, loggers, indiginous communities, CEO’s.

Rain Forest Stakeholder Roles

When the kids chose their role from this list, they spend time looking for articles and information that they can use in the final activity whereby they present their perspectives on Rainforest deforestation. In order to keep track and share resources the kids use Diigo to bookmark their websites into groups. Since two or  more kids can share a role, they will also be able to easily share links!

The hope is that the students discover the benefits of this tool and use it on a regular basis, when discovering cool stuff online!

Technology in Time

ASB unplugged. Well what a 5 days. I learned some ways that people believe education will change in the future, and how we as teachers can support students in these changes, but perhaps more importantly let kids lead these changes in technology. In order to for kids to connect with technology they need to understand their experiences and connect to them. I was thrilled when listening to the kids in the “Spotlight” sessions on Thursday morning. The idea of connectivism, happing right in front of my eyes. There were so many passionate kids sharing their ideas on how they are working with technology in the future. Some of these ideas that I will  bring back to my classroom are: 1. Try to find links with professionals online through twitter that my kids can talk to. This was inspired from a girl in grade 6 who is tweeting with an artist whose art they are studying. In year 7 we are starting a new unit on “My Place” where kids will inquire how environments impact their lives. I am going to try to find some educators in different parts of the world, who the students can ask tweet with to ask questions about their environments. * In the future students should be able to connect with professionals they can learn from  both in and outside class time. They do not only depend or want one subject teacher, but many teachers to talk to about a topic. This idea has started to develop but with time and the expansion of social media sites to connect people all over the world, it will only become larger. 2. I listend to a very passionate gamer, and how his grade 9 teacher uses a game called Civilizations.

Civilization for Colonization to help his kids to have practical experience with what early explorers went through when colonizing an area.

These are just two examples of what I heard from kids, they were also talking lots about voicethread, googledocs, moviemaker, and one note.

It really made me see the reality of the point from the connectivism article  that: “The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.” Kids have a project they want to work, on and can pick the tool they feel works best to show their learning. (starting from the individual) Then they use their peers to share their ideas with, continuing to to provide learning to themselves. Also in this process is the kids sharing their individual learning with adults, expand the connections they have made to their learning. Adults take these examples back to their own students, continuing the development of their knowledge.   I have used games like the Middle Passage on the active history site. Both of these games require a fee, however, I have been convinced that the use of games in education is something of the future. Both the idea that kids like playing games to learn, and they are also interested in developing games. However, as pointed out in session on Game Based Learning, it was pointed out that there are often cool games for kids to play, but the connections to the concept they are learning in school might be a bit weak. None the less, over the next few years the creation of games for learning is defiantly going to expand. In my upcoming unit on Poverty, I have dissevered two games that will help kids to understand some of the dynamics of the issue, in a gaming formate.


SuperStruct where kids create a new future.

Another cool game that I will share with my colleagues is World Without Oil

* In the future gaming will be a large part of how kids access education. This has already started and is only going to expand over time. After my presentation on using Twitter in the classroom. (where I discovered dispute so many schools having 1 to 1 laptops, many teachers have no idea how to use twitter or what it is)

I was tried of listening to adults, and headed over to the Flat Classroom Project!  Wow, instead of listening to adults talk about where technology in the future is headed, listen to the kids. At the Flat Classroom Project, the students from different schools came together to create a pitch on an idea of how they could connect with other schools around the world. Working in a group of eight these kids created pitches to teacher’s on what they thought were good ideas for a flat classroom. The two ideas that stuck out most in my head were connecting schools on helping to end Child Labour and creating an online Math website where kids of all languages could connect in order to help each other understand math. Fabulous ideas. I am planning to get my class linked into the Flat Classroom Project next year, as we have one class in our Humanities cycle that is for Global Issues. I think it would be great to work on a project like DigitTeen or a A Week in the Life. Where kids can “A Week in the Life…’ is a Flat Classroom® Project for Elementary School students of approximately ages 8-10. The curriculum focus is Interdisciplinary, how we live, how we communicate, cultural understanding and awareness. The aim of the project is to join Elementary School classrooms globally with a view to exploring what life is like in each country through discussion, sharing and collecting multimedia to create final products together.” Next at my school we are creating year level leader positions. It would be great if a year level could pick up one of these projects to collaborate with other schools. This is linked to the idea of Project Based learning, where students are the focus of the projects and projects are the driving force for learning, based on individual students.

At this conference I discovered that the idea of MOOCS is not a far off reality. Many connections from around the world were created that can allow for the further development of this idea. Both with the teachers who made connections and the students at the flipped classroom. We do not always  need to be in a face to face course to continue to have this connections. I like the idea of MOOCS, and feel that our COETAIL course is a step in that direction. I have people in my own network, I post my thoughts and comment on others ideas. I also found out that kids want the same concept. They called it a VIS (Virtual International School)

Think Different

Big Ideas


Big Ideas

After viewing the videos posted on our course 4 class, I had several reactions, and honestly the biggest one being I feel so privileged to teach at school which I believe is working hard a creating a school that kids want to come to and want to learn at.

Will Richards video highlights a lot of the pros and cons about education in the 21st century. Although he discusses most of his ideas from an American perspective, there are a few details that are linked to my classroom and the kids I teach.I believe that the MYP does not teach for “test prep” as he calls it. But that at times we are very assessment orientated, not because it is mandated but because at times it is the way some people view teaching and learning. They think, “well we taught them this, so we need to see if they learned it”. It would and does take their imagination away. I will not speak for everyone, and would a second birds eye view of my classroom, but I hope that my classroom is concept based enough that kids can think about the bigger idea, and determine how they want to remember the information.

For example, our current unit is looking at the question: “What role to people play in shaping the lives of others.”  Our topic is colonialism and imperialism, and starting with the Incas and Mayas, kids explore the concept that “civilizations existed long before they were discovered” we then move on to the continent of Africa, and specifically  the Congo. I have told the kids several times that the small details are “not important” to memorize, but to in 20 years from now remember that there were many cultural that had a flourishing civilization before other people in the world new about them. At the end of this unit, there is no test, but an assessment for the kids to show their understanding of the unit question by creating a journal, video or scrapbook from the perspective of either a European or a person from a colony. I am interested to know what Richards would have to say if his middle school kids came home with the assessment?

However, as Hiedi Hayes Jacobs wonders which year we are teaching our kids for. I like to tell my kids that I am teaching them for a world that we are not sure what will be like, and that big ideas and skills are going to be the driving force. As Chris Lehmann says, I hope my kids will be 21 century citizens, not 21st work force. However, the workforce defined by a different person might very crucial part of our future generations lives!





Viciuos Videos

Learning about visual tools is great. We have discovered several tools that educators can use to enhance student learning and understand of a topic or concept. I love showing my kids videos that are closely linked to the unit. And yes, like many I get annoyed when utube or vimeo do not have excatly the right clip I am looking for. I was happy to have the time to make my own video last class as I directly linked it to my current year seven unit on Media

We are looking at the unit question “What am I being told and who is telling me.” Our significant concept is: messages come in many forms. Thus far in the unit I have been using videos from utube and pictures from flickr to for the kids to identify what form the message are in, visual, oral or written. This is one of those units when there is lots to talk about, but not everything is directly related to what we are hoping the kids remember.

As a result I took the time provided in our face to face time to create my own video on messages around NIST. (It was also the first time I used my new mac and was very excited) After filming and editing I was happy with my visual representation of the idea that messages are everywhere. Showed my peers and tried to upload it to my utube and facebook account. Which FAILED and as a result I have lost my first imovie.

Now although I do not consider this a complete waste of time, it was in some sense useless, as I have nothing to show my kids! Did I have fun in the process yes. Clearly this leaves me with the question- Should we get our kids to make movies as a representation of their learning?

I also have really started to recognize and appreciate the amount of effort that goes into making movies. The movie below is one that I stumbled upon. I am sure this person must have taken a long time to put together the video on Thailand.

In Asia – Episode 2 – THAILAND from Vincent Urban on Vimeo.

The second videos are made by students our at our school. They capture unique moments in a persons life – experiences that they will probably never forget and this video allow students to share their experiences with others.

Finally, I do believe that kids love making videos of “stuff” they are interested in.  So perhaps, as we did on Saturday, we just need to let kids go out and create something amazing. Understanding that they might lose their work along the way!

Looky Looky

By onkel_wart @ Flickr

Using images is a powerful way for kids to express their ideas. However, rarely have I given my students the time and practice in learning how to do this properly.  I do get them to draw pictures of what how they understand a concept, but they have not used online images. I liked the idea of having different words to find images for, below you can see the 5 words that I found images that represent the meaning of the word in my mind.

WORDSPPIn the future I think this is a useful activity for students. In the up coming weeks we are looking at telecommunications and what the impacts of the changes have been. I think I will spend a some time in class next week asking the kids to find images that represent telecommunication in their minds.

By Jim Boud @ Flickr

By Ceasar R @ filckr

I have started to use creative commons in my class when searching for images for my lessons. I have come across a few times when I cannot find a photo that I want to use- so I default to google images that are not under creative commons. I think that it partly related to getting use to the search site. I have been more successful with the site called compfight, I find that images in this site are much more interesting and much better photos. Here are a few that I really like!

By @ Jeremy Brooks

 Boston big picture is a great site that has photos from big events from around the world where they have sent reports to take photos of the world events. I found this a very quick link to my classroom. In Humanities the students do Global Issues presentations. This site is a great site for the kids to find amazing photos of Global Issues.

Cyber bullies – How to can you “face them” when they are online?

Wow- the cruelty that exists behind a computer is profound. I am so happy that internet was not as popular when I was growing up- life would have been a nightmare. The worst thing is our students are facing this nightmare right now as I type this post. Sunday gossip after a weekend. I wonder what the kids are saying about each other, I wonder which group of friends is in turmoil, and I wonder if there is anything I can do Monday morning to help out those kids who are faced with online bullies, and how to educate all students about internet safety, and I want to find strategies I can give the kids to cope with, or stop being cyber bullies.

A few topics that came to my attention looking for these strategies.

A site, Kiwi Commons, mission is “To provide the best Internet safety resources for parents, educators and youth workers across North America. To encourage proactive strategies for youth and online safety through education, discussion and community building.” Interesting mission statement, and I wonder how often they are bombarded with emails from youth in North America who are taking part or are the brunt of cyber bullying. Could we create something like this in Bangkok to help kids in our area?

Although there are thousands of videos out there regarding cyber bullying our school chose to show this one at the school assembly. YouTube Preview Image

I do think this video as a powerful message to the students but I still think we need to do more than show them videos about the issue. We as teachers need to be proactive so that kids know they can ask for help if they are being cyber bullied. Before the internet bullies could perhaps be heard or seen but now there is really no way for teachers to see what is happening online to kids.

Kids need to know that they do have people to talk to if they need to. I have decided that I am going to take some time in my classes to bring up the issues and will show them this video and continue to enforce that they can talk to someone. YouTube Preview Image The video is new, and one of the other interesting things is the comments below the video- kids were shocked that it was taken off the air. The girl that this video is based on clearly did not feel she had someone to talk to. I feel it is very important that as teachers we make sure that our students do not feel trapped or alone.

When I have my discussions in class I am also going to ask the kids to look at the survey on whether or not they are a cyber bullying. The interesting point I took from this was that often kids who are cyber bullies are also the victims of cyber bullying.

Image from Glogster

I am hoping that by making our AUP more clear to kids, they can get a better sense of how they are expected to use their laptops. However, I am still stuck with the harsh reality that I think many kids who are cyber bullies know what they are doing is wrong.


How to share or how to take?

As an Humanities and English teacher everyday “get” information from places, other professionals, people in my school and u tube ect. Reflecting on what I have seen on our Coetail blog about creative commons I really do not think that I have been sourcing my information properly. I need to start and have found some resources that are going to help me organize my ideas. One simple thing that I have started to do is tell the students where the information I share with them is from. I then came across the barrier that I have piles of “stuff” from “places” where I do not know where it came from. I am not sure what to do with these files and documents, and find myself questioning whether I should just stop using them to avoid the copywrite issues, or keep using knowing that I am in fact breaking copywrite laws. I do know a lot of what I have got done is from places like creative commons where people are sharing ideas. Personally I do not care if anyone uses my information or ideas. But in reality I have not put them anywhere for people to use. -Perhaps I should start.

In terms of my students I get them to upload projects they complete using the computer through

A similar but more basic site is the plagiarism checker


or paper rater

I have create a group for each of my classes to hand in their tasks. I quickly glance at what the percent of their work is stated to be from another source. I find this is good technique to get the kids to use just as a way to double check they have put their assignments in their own words. The idea of plagiarism/copy write  in classes can be avoided when the kids are given the skill to paraphrase and summaries ideas they have taken from another place. Leaving me with the question that if the kids are still copy writing a source of information is the problem that they do not understand how to put the ideas in their own words or are they just lazy? I would say we need to teach them.

Larry Ferlazzo has an excellent list of websites that he considers the “best” for teaching kids about plagiarism.  A few that I really like are: a quiz about plagiarism where the kids need to decide what they think it means. Also there is a game where kids can play as goblins who start to destroy academic integrity at the school. Also Larry publishes everything for free!

In terms of kids publishing their ideas, as a school we have year level blogs. My classes year 7 and 8 both use our school blogs to share ideas with other teachers and the world- as anyone can access the blogs. Do I care if people take my ideas and use them with their students, not a all.

The reason being is that “ideas are worth spreading” and as educators we need to share ideas on how to help kids learn. I do not think it is copying!



EmgergingED Tech

Over the past few weeks I have been reading sites about different emerging technology for the classroom. I would say there are over 50 sites that have lists of different technology teachers can use for learning. It seems now I will be creating my own list of websites with lists, that I find useful.

EmergingEdTECH is a site that has created a digital book with several different resources and how to integrate them into the classroom. You can sign up for the free ebook, get the RSS feeds from their Blog, follow them on Twitter or watch their ides unfold on the their utube channel.

YouTube Preview Image

He talks about several different applications that teachers can communicate with students, each other and the world! There is also a blog you can subscribe to.


Presentation tools

Yesterday I was planning our next assessment on Ancient Civilizations with part of my year 7 team. The objective of the assessment is for kids to create a presentation making which links one ancient civilization to our modern day society. We would like the students to do a presentation on their inquiry into this topic.

I noticed a post on 21st Century Presentation tools where they mention some new interactive presentation tools that kids can use. This was the first time I have seen Sliderocket, where you can make presentation that move, and you can embed videos, images and text. Watch the Tutorial video!

I really liked this example, on the Social Media. The second tool is called, which is more a website that the kids can create on their topics. It also seems that they can use this website to keep track of other ideas they have on their classes. The kids do not have to know web design codes in order to create a website. It is an interesting concept, where in New York they have created a wix work lounge, which is free for users who want to build websites with wix

A great tutorial video YouTube Preview Image

I am going to also show these two sites to my kids to see if they would like to try them for their presentation.

Based on the last post I made on Social booking marking, I did get my year 8 class to open up a delicious account. It was a  bit of an onerous task, but they did get the hang of it, and when they realized they can be “friends” which each other on delicious and share links they were sold on the idea.