Still here to help

G’day blogging teachers in Tasmania,

This year I am no longer employed by the department to do blogging. This was my choice as they asked me to change role with less blogging involved.

I am, though, prepared to continue helping those teachers I have worked with over the last 7 years. I will be able to visit you at school but not necessarily work with the students.

Hopefully later in the year, there will be PD for teachers about using blogs in their classroom and I might be involved with that so keep a look out there.

If students have questions about their blogs, we could organize a Google chat or Skype or they can send me an email.

I will be doing more work on my family history blog this year as well as transferring information from a wiki on Sorell (wikispaces now closing) onto a blog that will be open to the world.

Hoping to hear from some of you soon – check my email on the sidebar of the blog.

Creating your first class blog

I noticed many Tasmanian teachers have registered for the Better Blogging with students course run by Edublogs. I will be one of the moderators of this course.

The Tasmanian Department of Education has its own setup for blogging called Xpress360.

To create your own blog  – contact me and I will do it for you or

  1. Click on login – top left corner of this blog
  2. Click on register
  3. Create your username – I suggest teachers use first initial then surname eg swyatt, chennessy, jdoran
  4. Put in your department email address
  5. Click gimme a site
  6. When asked for the URL of the site just add your username again. This will then create a blog like this
  7. Check your emails to get password and some clues on how to get started.

Feel free to email me at anytime – see the envelope image on the sidebar.

UPDATE: All new blogs for 2018 can be seen on the left sidebar.

Hour of code

Is your class taking part in #Hourofcode this coming week?

The background: Coding is part of computer science which is involved in our digital technology curriculum. But many teachers shy away from this, so a global effort has been made to make it easier to join in coding in the classroom.

Computer science involves problem solving, creativity and logical thinking. So hour of code takes place during Computer Science Education Week (USA) and this year is 4-10 December. Find out more basic information here. This page explains the process and includes a video to watch. You can also print out certificates to give to the students who complete the hour of code activity.

I decided to help a teacher friend run an hour of code in her grade 1/2 classroom but could I find an activity that would be suitable? I checked out the Hour of Code one hour tutorials and found one for grade 2-5 relating to Elsa and Anna from Frozen.

When I was in the classroom, I explained to the children they were going to help teach Elsa and Anna how to skate and make beautiful snowflake patterns. I worked with 4 children for the first hour or so and had them run the tutorial on their own. There were a few questions, some help given by me and some comments were:

This is too hard …… wow I did it!

Can you help me? … to the student sitting next to them

I’m up to puzzle 6 .. wow

How did you do that?

Why is it going over that way? I’ll change that number.

In the session after lunch, these four children became the experts and could wander around the lab if students had questions. When all students were in the computer lab, I worked through the first couple of puzzles to show students:

  • how to click blocks together
  • what happened using start over
  • reading instructions carefully

After seeing most were having a go at the puzzles using Repeat blocks, I gathered them together again to do some more explaining  about using repeat blocks and how to drag lots of connected blocks into a repeat block.

About 20 minutes before school finished, we went back to the classroom. Some students had completed to puzzle 6, others were on 10 and some had got to puzzle 20. Fantastic work for grade 1/2 students who had no idea of coding before that lesson.

Their teacher mentioned she had got to about level 6 and then had troubles working out the next level on her own so was glad someone was there to help her get to the next part of the game.

What had the students learnt from this lesson on coding?

  • how to ask great questions
  • perseverance
  • thinking logically
  • take a guess, test, make changes, test again
  • read instructions
  • working with a partner
  • feeling of accomplishment as they completed each level

Digital technology curriculum

Foundation to year 2: Digital Technologies processes and production skills

Follow, describe and represent a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve simple problems

Teachers: Here is a great resource for incorporating digital technologies into your curriculum.

Readers: Have you taken part in #HourofCode with your students? Which activity did they do? What did they learn from it? What did you as their teacher learn from it?

Global Education Conference Day 1

As mentioned in my last post, one way to connect globally is to take part in the online Global Education Conference happening this week. Here is the Aussie time schedule (Hobart time of course).

As a volunteer at the conference, I get to go into the presentations and listen to some wonderful speakers. They all relate to something global and each session is recorded and archived here.

In a five hour period, I sat in on two different sessions:

Empowering Young Changemakers through Design Thinking

Mahika Halepete is the 15 year old presenter who has her own non profit organization called Ayana International. Check out this article about how she got started with social justice around the world. She also wrote and sang her own song called Walked Away. Just Google her name and you will be amazed at what she is doing.

KEYNOTE      Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom

Sylvia Martinez – Author, speaker, publisher 

If you are into tinkering and maker spaces at your school then this session has lots of ideas and resources you can use. A website co authored by Sylvia is about helping educators invent the future.

Another moderator was  impressed with a session co run by my friend Anne Mirtschin from Hawkesdale in Victoria. It was about the world peace music project. Listen to the recording here and see if you agree.

Connecting globally

He has the whole world on his head

Creative Commons License Michael Coghlan via Compfight

Part of the Australian curriculum relates to connecting both teachers and students globally. How do you do that?

When I first began blogging in 2007, I knew no-one from overseas. I asked my mentor Sue Waters from Edublogs how to find people for my students to connect with on their blogs. Sue sent out a tweet and, suddenly, I started to develop a global PLN (personal learning network).

My first three connections were Jan Smith from Vancouver Island, Canada, Inpi from Lisbon, Portugal and Paul Bogush from Connecticut, USA. I am still in contact with these three educators and have actually visited Jan and Paul on one of my trips to USA.

Do you have any overseas teachers or educators in your PLN ? How can you find them?

Join a global education network

With over 26,000 members in their global network, this conference always has some great presenters from many different countries of the world. Check out their online guide to their conference happening next week. Make sure you find the schedule for our time zone.

I will be there next week as a volunteer in some of the sessions.

Join twitter as an educator and or class

You will see a twitter guide in the links on the sidebar – everything you need to know about twitter. Twitter is my go to for personal learning.

  • Send out the URLs of student posts and see who replies on their blog posts. Include #17stubc and #comments4kids
  • Start a hashtag relating to a topic you are doing in class and pose questions on twitter for other classes to reply to – make sure you are following other class twitter accounts for this to work well
  • As you now have a blog, make sure you include the @edublogs whenever you tweet.
  • Take part in some Twitter chats – you can follow even if not a member but need to join Twitter to actually take part

Here is the information for using Twitter with students

Take part in the Global Read Aloud

This event takes place in October/November each year. Check out their website here and perhaps plan to take part in 2018.

Connect with other groups

Join the Global Oneness project – Lots of interesting stories and ways to curate collections of stories about global events and problems.

Connect with others via Skype or Edmodo

The Wonderment is a way for kids to do good in the world


eLearning with blogs

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