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Saturday, March 29, 2008


The weather here is finally feeling like Wellington, I head back north tomorrow so hope I don't take it with me. I have been exploring some new applications and working on brochures and poster in preparation to head to the Hanoi conference. Irfanview is just my favourite programme for taking screenshots and playing with images. Comic Life rocks too - I have made a storyboard about my students creating digital stories on that. Even though I am using them to 'work' it is a luxury to have this time to be using them.

I have also been setting up virtual classes for our Year 9ICT performance class at MMC on our moodle site - they are going to be researching medieval worlds in preparation for entering the Jane and the Dragon animation competition.
Some webquests I have referred them to as part of their research are available here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Teacher resources site

This site has links to a range of teaching resources. Meanwhile my easter weekend has been both productive in terms of taking some great pics of students for my poster, and relaxing in having a couple of fabulous times out sailing. We would have stayed out but my daughter from Wellington was here and we also wanted to make the most of our time with her before she headed back south. Caught up too with our friend and sailing buddy Kim who is off to teach in the Gibson Desert in Western Australia - best of luck there Pricey, it will be a big adventure and you will make the most of it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Widgets and search engine

Just added two new blog links - one is for searching Flickr photos and enables you to search only those with Creative Commons rights, I have done two searches for images using Compfight and both were very successful.
The other blog link is rather different from this - it has a collection of Widgets for writers.
It's called Language is a virus, and I am pretty sure I will spend quite a bit of 'net play' time there.
Happy Easter everyone.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gracious Criticism

This is a great link from Andrew Churches, thanks for that. It is often difficult to come up with constructive approaches to texts and find ways of giving appropriate and adequte feedback. This is one that I know I will find very useful in critiquing the work of others.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Moodle meeting

Just attended an IT coaches meeting for moodling at Mt Maunganui College - there are so many opportunities for catering for a range of learning styles and offering students a variety of resources through this style of learning that I am amazed more teachers haven't adopted LMSs for their favoured approach to teaching. One of the most glaring advantages is that your activities and links are there for future use, better than any course book ever devised (as far as I know :) Another huge benefit is for students who might be absent for some reason or another - the LMS benefits the teacher and the student - no EXTRA preparation, and the student can access the class at any time that suits. This is just the basics - there are so many reasons for using an LMS that there is no way the benefits can be outweighed by any disadvantages.
I know there is a time factor in course creation and modification but hey, once it's been done the work to maintain it is minimal and the benefits optimum. Teachers need tools like this to help them keep up in such a fast paced environment as the one they are working in, if they are to continually strive to do the best for students.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Links about story telling

Create a character -
this e-how blog provides some useful ideas about putting together a character that your readers/viewers can become involved with; another aspect of storytelling is that once you have grabbed the viewer/readers' attentions it is important to keep them there till you have told your story.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Key competencies

Today our students began their own digital stories. We looked at some examples that show how simple an effective story can be - The Cat Herder EDS advertisement, and the Playstation Boy (PS3) both from YouTube. The idea of this was to show that it is the idea that grabs the viewer's interest and for example in The Cat Herder - it is taking an old one and adding or changing one of its dimensions. A further suggestion to students who struggled to come up with a storyline was that they start with a fairy tale and change a dimension - this works well as the storyline is already there and already full of goodies and baddies.
From here they collected images - some had their own cameras - and some downloaded existing images in to photoshop to create a folder of images for use in their draft storyboard.
Ten minutes prior to the end of the session students were asked to save their work then record and reflect on what they had done today in their moodle blog. Once they had spent a few minutes on this they were then asked to write about what they would need to do in tomorrow's class to build on what they had done today, and take their story to the next step.
One of the main achievements in today's class was that some students who had not interacted with others before have now begun to work cohesively as a team to fulfill a purpose.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

More on digital stories

Tomorrow the students will begin working in groups on their stories in small groups. We are going to start with the Comic Life software for storyboarding, using their own photos and speech bubbles to develop dialogue. They will also have their first introduction to some of our friendly Marvin characters and if the technology works, to one or two of my Youtube faves. These are the digital stories of our time.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Green eggs and ham with Jordan

Jordan's favourite stories were Green Eggs and Ham, and the Great Big Block of Chocolate.
Maybe she has a bit of a food thing going on! A friend sent me her favourites (thanks for sharing Ali) and they are Famous Five and Secret Seven. She also reminded me about the great Narnia series - and how much she has enjoyed reliving them in cinematic form - I think that goes without saying for a lot of us.

Thanks 9ICT

Really interesting reflections today on who had which favourite books - Dr Seuss definitely a favourite among many age groups - humour, narrative, illustrations - plenty of good reasons for these to be some of our perennial favourites. Some students showed great use of initiative in creating and attaching images to their moodle blogs, and many of them have update their student profiles with a personalised image - good work team. The next challenge will be for our groups to come up with some creative ideas to tell their own stories using their own images and voices with a range of technologies.
An interesting point too was the generation span over which Famous Five and Secret Seven stories have continued to be highly rated. Take the Secret Seven quiz and test yourself!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Story telling today

The ram upgrade has made a huge difference to my speeds and changed the modus operandi here considerably. Marvin software is going famously. I had a wonderful response from our Year 9 class regarding their prior knowledge of storytelling - over twenty emails from students. I am looking forward to working with this class on Friday and next week and I bet they come up with some brilliant stories.

I have been thinking about stories, the culture of them and remembering those I have loved - 'Caps for Sale' was my very own first favourite and drove my parents crazy! My sister's was 'Hurrah for Jonathon'. We can look at story telling on a wider basis and include stories such as my first cinematic favourites - 'I Love Lucy', 'The Beverley Hillbillies' and 'Lassie'. My youngest child's is The Hobbit. Favourite stories now are often those we share such YouTube clips. Saving favourites and sharing is a clear way of establishing a shared culture of stories. Although many aspects of our stories have changed, sharing is still a really important part of story telling.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mt Maunganui college

Met today with Martin Burch (HOD IT at Mt Maunganui College) and he is totally positive about Marvin and about using my digital storytelling lessons with the Year 9 IT performance class we run there. Also caught up with Rochelle Jensen (local ICT PD facilitator) and have added a link to her great blog.
Meanwhile I am continuing to work on the Powerpoint lesson plan for our digital story adventures - adding links and assessment information to share with Martin for our students. He was as excited about the students using Marvin as I am so the students can only benefit from that sort of enthusiasm.