Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wonder-blogs that I am following.

I love finding inspirational blogs. I would like to share the following with you.

Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning is a great website. The authors are pre-school educators based in Melbourne. Their pre-school centre is play-based and includes beautiful, inviting learning environments for children (as well as providing me with a wide range of ideas!)

The other must-read blogger is another Australian - Kathleen McGeady. I follow two of her blogs - her own and her classroom blog. One day, I can only hope to achieve in the classroom what her students are currently producing.

Interesting ICTs - Beebots and iTeddy

I am becoming excited about the types of ICT tools that can be used in a Prep classroom. I am lucky to have access to a Beebot and wow - were the children engaged!

I had a large grid on which I had placed all the students names. Their challenge was to work out how to find their name. They were all engaged and actually clapped each of their classmates when their turn was finished (whether or not they had got it right). I am now asked on a daily basis if the Beebot can come out to play!

Our focus Jolly Phonic letter this week was 'Bb' - and Beebot was one of their brainstormed words.

I'm looking forward to creating Beebot slalom challenges, and other grids with numbers, letters and sightwords. I also want the students to make a path out of blocks for the other students to navigate with Beebot. I'm looking forward to going to a PD called "Count me In" to find out more ways that the Beebot can be used for numeracy.

In a classroom without an interactive whiteboard, it is my challenge to find new and engaging ways to incorporate ICTs to enhance learning experiences.

My new purchase is an iTeddy. I have yet to introduce him to the class, and I am about to get me an Easi-Speak microphone. More about these later . . .

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More discoveries!

I am finding that the blogosphere is an incredible place. Through the current blogs that I am signed up to, I keep discovering more and more wonderful things. My creativity levels are not up to those that I discover, so if I cannot be a giver of useful and creative resources, then I will attempt to be a sharer of wondrous discoveries.

My latest discovery is a blog called Learning Today. This blog has many contributors and a wide range of topics and resources (lessons, math games and posters for Blooms to name a few). One of its most recent postings discussed another blog called Fun 4 The Brain. This blog has a range of fun interactive games to promote concepts of numeracy and literacy.

I have also shared these discoveries on diigo and delicious. I'm looking forward to more discoveries that I can share.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Random Acts of Reading - a wonder blog!

Since I have now discovered all about Google Reader and its joys, I am delighting in reading all of my new-found interesting blogs. As I am doing my internship in a Prep classroom, I am finding these sites invaluable for ideas that I can use in all aspects of the curriculum - art, literacy and numeracy. (All of my favourite blogs are listed in the side bar.) As I find and use more, I will keep you updated.

I am particularly loving Our Random Acts of Reading. The author, Laura, leaves well-loved picture books and activities for people to find. Each blog posting talks about why the particular book is a favourite, and describes the activities (and links) to the activities that are included. Laura wants to be able to "gift" 2, 010 books in 2010 and is looking for people to join the project. While it is American, I would love to try that here in Australia. This will be my project . . .

Where to start? Possum Magic, Diary of a Wombat, Graeme Base - so many fave authors, so many books. Will need to start getting creative . . .

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Early Childhood Links

During my engagement with the e-learning course, I came across (and subsequently subscribed to) two blogs that discussed Montessori classrooms and the different kinds of lessons and resources that they used to enhance learning in the Early Childhood environments.

For EPL2, I was in a Prep classroom, and I used and adapted some of the numeracy and literacy experiences from these blogs. I found them useful for small group work, and particularly for my kinaesthetic learners.

I am lucky enough to have Prep again for my final year, and I will definitely be looking through the blogs and checking my Google Reader account for constant updates. The links to the blogs are below. Have a search through the archived items or just search for different ideas.

I hope that you find some useful ideas here.

My Montessori Journey
Itty Bitty Love

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

Exploring and analysing the wide range of Web 2.0 technologies has been exhilarating, challenging, frustrating and eye-opening. The first challenge to overcome was my prior dismissal of these technologies as not being relevant to me. I had to stop thinking subjectively about these tools and analyse them objectively - to see how an "immigrant" can make learning and meaning making engaging to the multiple learning styles of the "native" (Prensky, 2004).

In my Portal Task classrooms, I have not encountered many of these technologies, let alone seen them implemented. My challenge will be in finding ways to introduce opportunities for my learners to experience the wonders of their local and global communities.

This course has taken me and my e-learning peers into the ether, where we have established connections, networks and a community of practice (Wenger, nd) as we demonstrate how and what we have learned, encourage each other in making meaning, as well as finding assistance and resources as we continue our e-learning journeys. I know that I have found the blogs of my fellow e-learners invaluable in providing me with my own "light-bulb" moments (Amanda and Stuart for their etymological insights (aggregator and avatar) and upper primary revelations about ClassMarker, Andrew for an invaluable suggestion of how to use podcasts for professional development, and Kira for a sensational way on using Flickr in a lesson on weather). While "lurking" has an odious connotation, I know that my journey has been enhanced by reading the trials, tribulations, joys and wonders of my fellow learners. In turn, I have received food for thought from peers and other visitors.

Using different frameworks as a basis for examining and analysing the different tools helped my own higher order thinking. What was important for me, was to find ways that they could be used to engage students in meaningful learning experiences where knowledge becomes understanding, not just the "CTRL-C, CTRL-V" means of gathering information. (March, 2002-2006).

The main frameworks that I applied in my examination of these technologies were Kearsley and Shneiderman's Engagement Theory (1999) and Oliver's Learning Design Sequence (1999). Throughout my journey, I also used other lenses to look through. These being:
  • A constructivist lens. How do students create their own understandings - by themselves, through scaffolded experiences, working with their peers, informal or formal learning experiences. (McInerney & McInerney, 2006)
  • A Multiple Intelligence lens. Having profiled my students at the beginning of the year, I was well aware of their MI strengths and weaknesses. I undertook my own test and discovered that I needed to work on my weaknesses to fulfil their strengths.
Another challenge that I faced was being in an Early Childhood environment. Some technologies I embraced more whole-heartedly as I could see practical applications in my current classroom. Prep students have a wide range of visual literacies and comprehension of symbols, yet their reading and writing skills presented me with challenges on how to implement some of the technologies - in particular ClassMarker. In saying that, I remain open to its potential.

It was with the visual, auditory and interactive technologies - these being Powerpoint, YouTube and music - that I connected with. I discovered ways that I could engage the Prep students in creating blogs for a purpose and I became intrigued with the possibilities of global classrooms. Security implications were also at the forefront in my examination of these technologies. In examining global classrooms, I saw practical examples of avatars being used to protect the children's images.

VoiceThread is a technology that I would use regularly in an Early Childhood environment. I already use Photostory, but there are far more student centred collaborative applications with VoiceThread. As well as being used for telling stories, excursion recounts, it would be a great tool to use for stories on positional language where students could create concrete examples of abstract concepts.

Another technology that I can see practical applications for in my future classroom is that of e-portfolios. E-folios are becoming an important way of documenting learning journeys. In our increasingly transitory world, they become a powerful portable tool for students to demonstrate their learning as they travel from school to school, state to state, country to country.

So, now what? What are the future implications for me as an ICT user and Learning Manager. By participating in this course I am working towards gaining my ICT certificate, an advantage when I become employed as it will demonstrate that I am "up to the challenge of contemporary learning and teaching from day one". (Education Queensland, 2009). Through my engagement with the course, I have now signed up for RSS feeds from educational sites, I will actively search for professional blogs, and I have discovered the potential of podcasts for my professional development. I am now part of an ICT learners community of practice. I will remain open and objective to new technologies and embrace them, and I now have frameworks with which to examine the technologies and my designed learning experiences.

Bring on the future . . .

Education Queensland (2009) Smart Classrooms. Tertiary Education Students. Downloaded August, 2009 from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999) Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Downloaded 5 July 2009 from

March, T (2002-2006) The 7 Red Flags. Downloaded from

McInerney, D & McInerney V (2006) Educational Psychology. Constructing Learning. (Edition 4) Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

Oliver, R. Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning. Distance Education. (1999) Vol 20 (2) p 240- 254.

Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Downloaded July 2009 from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

The Learning Design Construct. Downloaded July 2009 from

Wenger, E (nd) Communities of practice. A brief introduction Downloaded August 2009 from

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Voicing over . . .

I first found out about VoiceThread from K-3 Teacher Resources, of which I am a member. Until recently I used to receive monthly newsletters - now I have signed up for RSS feeds and I am constantly being updated about new resources. They provided a link to a VoiceThread that demonstrated how it could work in a classroom. At the time I thought that it would be a wonderful resource to use in the classroom - creating class online books, or retelling excursions were two ideas that came to mind.

VoiceThread itself provides ideas on how it could be used, and there is also educational blog that provides information on ways that VoiceThread can be used (for a variety of ages and year levels).

From reading the blogs of my fellow e-learners, this is a tool that they all seem to be most engaged by (and I agree). As an e-learning technology it provides a higher level of engagement and interactivity than a Powerpoint demonstration. It allows all the voices of a group to be heard (whilst providing anonymity in the form of Doppel Me avatars that can be uploaded).

A learning activity that I instigated in my Prep Class was Humphrey the class bear. Students would take him home and write about what they do with Humphrey at their house. It was a great success - however, having examined all these wonderful tools, a blog could have been created detailing his adventures, or even a VoiceThread. I created a "teaser" for what could be done and added to as an ongoing project.