New Literacies Video Presentation

Here is the New Literacies Group video presentation from the culminating session of the PLP ConnectU program for DEECD teachers in 2011. It features students from Winters Flat PS, Castlemaine PS, Berwick PS, Kalinda PS and Yuille Park Community College.

The students talk about:
– using blogs
– using Google Docs
– using the Ultranet
– improving their traditional literacy skills
– learning new digital literacies

Ultranet meets Google Docs at Winters Flat Primary School

Today students in year 5 and 6 at Winters Flat Primary School logged into the Ultranet to view their ICT tasks and were delighted to discover that they now had their own accounts on the school’s new Google Apps for Education domain at wintersflatps.net.  Web 2.0 technologies like the Ultranet and Google Apps work conveniently in a web browser, make collaboration easy and make hunting for that file or email attachment a thing of the past.

Students are already collaborating on creative writing tasks using Google Docs.  Here’s an example of what’s possible.  The video shows the development of a piece of writing by a Canadian primary student using Google Docs.  (If YouTube is blocked at your school, this is worth watching at home.)

Learning through games

In mid-May I visited the DEECD Innovation Showcase in Melbourne and attended a session entitled “Learning through games”.

When I visited the Tyrell College showcase I felt an immediate sense of deja vu. The way in which students and teachers were using The Lord of The Rings Online reminded me of a period in the 1980s when adventure games like Granny’s Garden were often used by teachers as thematic centrepieces for cross-curricular activity that turned whole classrooms into exciting places where witches, dragons and other fantastic creatures came to life. Children became enthusiastically engaged in reading, writing, numeracy, art and drama – all related to the world of the game.  And here at the DEECD Showcase in 2011 I was seeing an approach that was remarkably similar!  Today the reach of the technology is broader so that what were once cross-curricular off-computer pen and paper based activities are now mostly on-computer activities. There is also the entirely new element of social networking where students communicate with other students and gamers across the state and across globe.

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The Witch from the 1983 classic Granny’s Garden

It was good to see that an innovative approach pioneered in primary schools by teachers like Mike Matson almost thirty years ago is still alive today.  I hope more teachers try it.

An interview with Mike Matson from 2010 can be found here, where he discusses the genesis of his game Granny’s Garden, first released for the BBC microcomputer in 1983.

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The challenging Dragon Puzzle from Granny’s Garden

DISCLOSURE: I’m especially fond of Granny’s Garden as it was the first adventure game I programmed for my own software company Dataworks. 4Mation, the UK publishers, allowed me to produce the first Apple II and Macintosh versions of their best selling adventure games Granny’s Garden, Flowers of Crystal and Dragon World.

PS. If you’re tempted to try The Lord of the Rings Online, go here. It’s free.

Super heroes motivate young writers

cpbherofactory is a fun way for kids to create their own super hero.  Best of all, it’s an excellent motivational device to encourage kids to create character profiles and write adventure stories.
Thanks to Heather Blakey for introducing this site to the students at Guildford Primary School where I first became aware of it.
I’ve had success using this cpbherofactory with kids using an interactive whiteboard (IWB) in the following way:
1. Show a written profile of a super hero character.  Here is a useful profile on superman.
2. Show a  super hero movie trailer (great for building excitement).  Here is a  suitable wonderwoman trailer.
3. Have the class collaborate on the creation of a super hero on using cpbhero factory on the IWB.
4.  Have students create their own super heros and post them on their blogs with a written character profile.  Here are some examples.

herofactory

The Hero Factory is a fun way to create your own super hero.  Best of all, it’s an excellent motivational device to encourage students to create character profiles and write adventure stories.

I’ve had success using cbpherofactory.com with year 3 to 6 students using an interactive whiteboard (IWB) in the following way:

1. Show a  super hero movie trailer (great for building excitement).  Here is a Wonder Woman movie trailer.

2. Show a written profile of a super hero character.  Here is a profile on superman.

3. Have the class collaborate on the creation of a super hero using The Hero Factory on the IWB.

4.  Have students create their own super heroes and post them on their blogs with a written character profile.  Here are some examples.

(Thanks to Heather Blakey for introducing this site to the students at Guildford Primary School where I first became aware of it.)

Is blogging good for school children?

Blogs have tremendous educational potential.  They provide a communication space that teachers, children and parents can use to develop writing, share ideas and reflect on work being undertaken at school in any subject area.  They enable children to showcase their work and to receive feedback and encouragement from friends, family and fellow students.

What are blogs?
You are reading one.  Blogs are websites maintained by people to describe events or make commentary on news or subjects of interest.  Blogs are mostly made up of pieces of writing, called posts, written by the blog owner.  They may also contain images and video and usually have links to other blogs and web pages.

Do blogs threaten children’s privacy or safety?
Blogging on teacher-monitored blogs is a comparatively safe online activity, but since anyone can see a blog and anyone can post a comment on a blog, there is a risk that unwanted comments will be posted.  Usually comments don’t appear publicly on a blog until they are approved by the blog’s owner (this is the default setting for most blogs), so inappropriate comments will only be seen by the blog owner (child) and the teacher administrator.  School children should be taught about cyber bullying and all school blogs should be monitored to ensure appropriate behaviour.  It is rare to find anyone outside the school community posting on a school blog.  Children should not share personal details like their address or family photos.  Once a photo or video is posted on a blog it can be viewed and downloaded by anyone.

Getting started with graphics software

Making an abstract picture using Paint or Paint.NET is a great way to get kids started with graphics software.

Here’s a simple three step process:

Step 1.  Use the outline shape tools to draw shapes on screen.

Step 2.  Use the bucket flood fill tool to fill the shapes with colour.

Step 3.  Add one or more visual effects to the picture and save it.

Here’s an example below:

Drawn with Paint.NET.  Animated with MS Gif Animator

Drawn with Paint.NET. Animated with MS Gif Animator

Click here to see an asymmetrical example by Sophie.