Friday, December 9, 2011


A beginning, really. The first steps.

I have found a copy of Starting out with Python by Tony Gadis, and have managed to squeeze in time for the first chapter and a half so far.

Being able to read up in the programming language and then play with the code examples in the IDE has been great, although usually so mug has happened during the day or between reads that I have to refresh what I am up to.

But it's a start... And I have been experimenting with my students using Scratch too. Ticking off the list!

Friday, December 2, 2011

More change on the horizon

Quite a few conversations about next year have taken place at school, as the usual staffing decisions are shaken up again and again by conducting interviews around the referral process. One of the decisions may be to move me on from ICT coordinator to the field of Numeracy.
At first, I though I had misheard. But then some reasons followed, and I have to admit that they
make sense. I will say that my first reaction was, "You won't stop me!"
At the same time as I was mulling over the reasons (widening my portfolio so that I wouldn't be forever pigeonholed as 'the computers guy'), I was already running through some ideas for incorporating technology into my teaching of Maths and what I could use to combine these ideas.
This last week my students have been using Google SketchUp to create their ideal school - not only spatial awareness and measurement, but also design and technology and thinking and reasoning, as well as literacy in explaining their choices.
There are options for enhancing the free Studyladder resource with paid sites like Cambridge's HotMaths or Mathletics. And the I-Learn Ultranet sites created by Robyn Scanlon are sure to be a great support.
I want to get clear to the other staff that real is best, modeling helps and the chance to experiment goes a long way to helping students internalize the concepts. The challenge as always is to help students discover something for themselves and to use that knowledge, rather than telling them and providing skill and drill worksheets - like some others...

Sunday, November 27, 2011


A few more things that I have in the works for 2012, in no particular order of achievability (well, it's a word now!):

- participating in one/some of the Intel Teach online courses available at
- investigate the Google Educator online sessions (may be applicable to the USA only, and require some face-to-face contact)
- starting 2012 off with Stanford University's free online Computer Science 101 course (

In recent reading I have also come across GameStar Mechanic as advertised in the STEM Challenge website, and the Alice programming language that can be a useful precursor to other languages such as Scratch.

I feel like I need to get started on this fifteen years ago...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A micro-break

Returning to the semi-public forum of reflection after a week or so reflecting on the progress of my students during the second half of the year... feeling a bit rusty, bear with me.

This end of the year seems to be evaporating with even more vigour than previous years. There seems so much to do, so many plans to put in place, and yet no time in which to do these with any real success.

Aims for next year, teaching in a new area of the school:
- reflection as part of the weekly (if not daily) curriculum, as captured by blog. Am undecided if I will pursue the Ultranet for this or another forum such as this fine one right here.
- using Evernote as an observation tool, with thanks to @piratepete.
- collaboration by students using Google Docs to work together on a task, with thanks to @rmbyrne (follow this guy on Twitter, and his Free Tech 4 Teachers website) among others.
- explore more rich tasks such as responding to blog posts, online setting and submission of learning tasks (when Ultranet is 'fixed'), and having students set their own questions
- digital forms of assessment such as videos and narrated examples, will be investigating VoiceThread for this.
- the Big6 research strategies for better searching of the internet rather than relying on Google's first two pages of results.
- define and develop a Scope and Sequence chart for ICT skills at primary school that both incorporates VELS and has useful skills in a Web 2.0 environment.

So... simultaneously thanking and cursing Twitter - there are so many great ideas out there, that in a given day I am able to collect only a sample, read and investigate a fraction of these, and implement only a couple of that smaller subset.

Still - one step forward is still an advance. I will be relating my progress as it happens or doesn't happen. Keep me honest!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Video - curse of the talkies

Trying to get a quick snapshot about what a few students thought about using the Ultranet this afternoon, and I got what I asked for: should have asked for something insightful and personal, with a bit of reflection and purpose to it.
Mental note - encourage thinking and note taking to prompt replies, and check my questioning. Because the video clips I have gained to promote the Ultranet are almost recommendations for awarding those students lower results than were awarded for Thinking and Speaking & Listening last term.
Still optimistic about raising the bar - just need to coach the volunteers a bit more...

The fear of the known

A room full of adults tonight reacted against using social media to promote the activities happening in the school, immediately after the sharing of Google analytics website statistics showing an increase in traffic to our site, including international hits.
Can something be done in a proactive way so as to reduce the fear of what might happen? A public forum that many parents would be utilising could be harnessed for good, at least as an experiment. Surely there are other schools who have experienced success in promoting their activities using social media as a form of contact with the wider community...

Friday, November 11, 2011

The gate and the horse

I have recently found out what area of the school I will be teaching in next year, and at least one of my colleagues for the entire year (more to follow when the knowledge is a little more public - so no spoiler alert necessary!).
While some may think it overkill or a tad premature, my immediate thoughts went to collaboration using technolo, and setting up a grade Ultranet space without a single student being enrolled in the class yet. And with some of my professional reading on Twitter recently, my brain started overclocking.
Thanks to @piratepete's blog, I had already re-established my long lost connection with Evernote. He posted about making observations on each student in one notebook, the beauty of which is that it is constantly able to be accessed from such a range of platforms. Seeing that I have diversified my daily load of laptop, netbook and iPad into my backpack and a satchel this seems like it will be very useful indeed.
A return to OneNote was inspired too, involving a heady bout of problem solving and importing. This was the result of my User Profile on my laptop being deleted, and all settings therein also being dematerialised, so after a lunchtime switching between users and notebooks, all seems the way it should be (with OneNote anyway - haven't risked Outlook yet!).
And what about joining a buddy school for some Skye projects? Squeezing a few more SMART boards into the budget figures and seeing if it flies? Using one of the vacated classrooms as a filming studio and investing in some green screen gear?
The best laid plans have yet to be written, but the idea shed is very well stocked - Santa would be jealous.