Thinking Digital

Last year Tara and I had the privilege of speaking at the Thinking Digital conference in Newcastle, UK. It was an amazing experience – only enhanced by the fact that Sugata Mitra was also speaking – immediately after us! Here’s the video:

25 Jo Fothergill V1 from Thinking Digital on Vimeo.


Collaborative teaching in a traditional environment – EDTalk

Collaborative teaching in a traditional environment from EDtalks on Vimeo.

Using Google Docs as part of teaching

I’m out of my classroom this morning for a literacy workshop. I’m not sure who the relief teacher will be but that’s ok – all my work is already online waiting for my students.

When my students arrive they turn the computers on and open up their assigned browser (long story!). Their home page is the class work blog. They read through the schedule for the day and then usually go on to play one of their favourite maths activities.


Today they will do the same but I won’t be there to see them through the first 1-1/2 hours. They can still do their work though and the relief teacher won’t have to do anything except manage the class.

I use google docs to plan my week. Then I publish it as a web page – this puts it into a format that is easily shared with my class (and others).


I hyperlink other work so that as I am demonstrating things for the class it’s easy to find them. The lessons are done the same way – I type up instructions – format them – and then publish as webpages – this makes it easy to hyperlink them in the class blog as well.

This is a shot from today’s maths:


I also set up maths activities (aka games) for the week and have them linked from one page:


When I come back into the class later in the morning the work is ready to go – I have this week’s spelling words linked as well as our reading activity for the day:


I’ve become a fan of google docs and find it frustrating when I have to use Word or even Open Office. One of the great things is I can still edit as I go – these are all living documents. Sometimes when several students ask me a question I then go back and write the answer up as part of the instructions. I do this quite openly in front of the students – it’s part of their teaching and learning as well as mine.

I’m happy to share the actual links with people so please let me know if you want to see the working documents.

5 year old visitors

One of the other teachers at school brought her students (5 year olds) to visit in our class. As there are only 6 students in her class at the moment we put one in each of the 6 class groups.

I had found some online maths activities for them to do together.

It was fascinating to watch my kids in action. I could tell which ones are used to working with younger children by the way they talked to them and helped them without taking over.

I shot a short video – I wanted to gauge noise level and also how connected everyone was to the task.

(I need to figure out angles in my classroom so I can fix a camera to a tripod and shoot a maths or reading/language lesson.)

Integrated Studies in School

Here is a refreshing video about blurring the curriculum lines in schools.

5 frame story telling

Today I did my first session based around a #lats09 takeaway – I attended @heymilly’s session on 5 frame digital story telling and with my friend Mariee took some photos which we submitted to the 5 frame group page on flickr.

I wanted to get some talk happening and so told the kids I’d be showing them 5 related pictures and wanted them to look at each one and feed back what they thought was happening in the picture (I’ll move on to the “What’s going to happen next?” later.)

I was totally blown away with the ideas and the reasoning behind the ideas that they came up with. A snippet follows:


  • troll with a magic wand
  • robot
  • troll going to a friend’s house
  • troll in the library
  • troll walking away from/going to draw on the chalkboard
  • abandoned/lost/forgotten/alone
  • troll standing/playing

Read the rest at our class blog page.

My next plan is to show all five pictures and their ideas and get them to write a story cohesively linking the pictures together. Certainly they came up with ideas that Mariee and I didn’t think about when setting up the photos.

Learning @ School 09

It’s hard to come up with that the absolutely best thing about #lats09 has been but one of the best is actually getting to meet all the people I’ve been tweeting with and blogging about for several years (PLN).

Sitting around the table at the Bloggers Cafe in real life instead of just virtually is fantastic.

It’s also been a great time to add new people to my twitter friends list; to watch people sign up and start tweeting during keynotes or sessions at the Blogger’s Cafe.

One of the cool things is to meet people like the keynote speakers online via their blogs or tweets and then to talk with them during the conference.

One of the other things is going to conference with colleagues and you see another side of them – and you also have amazing professional discussions at all times of the day and night.

I’ve discovered that I can access our entire twitter stream that we hash-tagged and take another look at our conversations –

Another of the great things about L@S09 was the collaboration. Not just through twitter feeds with questions and answers flying thick and fast; but right from the first keynote when @heheboy opened a collaborative document and 8 of us took notes together – and then opened another one so some more people could take notes. People helped others tweak their presentations, suggested content, loaned equipment, shared the load. I’ve already posted the blogger photo of 12 of the conference bloggers/tweeters who enjoyed the chance to meet f2f. But perhaps the very best example of collaboration can be found on @NZchrissy’s website and on a youtube video – planned by @Allanahk it was a kind of flashmob event where those of us in the know (mainly conference tweeters) invaded the front of the auditorium at the start of Wes Fryer‘s keynote (note that he joined in as well) and while @Allanahk‘s collaborative video was being shown on the screen we were doing the dance – and @NZchrissy was dancing in Bangkok – international flashmob!

News Broadcasters

Today students in my class became news broadcasting teams. They worked in groups of 4 – 2 girls, 2 boys – and took the roles of news reporters (2), camera operator (1) and producer (1).

Each group had the same script to work from (our school daily notices). They organised themselves into roles with their groups. While the reporters practised their scripts I ran a mini workshop for the camera operators and producers.

We used the class Canon Powershot A470 mounted on a tripod. First I showed them how to attach the camera to the mounting bracket and then they all had to show me how to do it. Then I showed them how to attach the bracket to the tripod and then they all did that for me.

We talked about setting the camera up – I set the scene but talked them through it. We looked at framing and distance etc.

After morning tea I worked with each group to record the news. The reporters practised while I ran through the setup with the camera operator and producer then we silenced the class and they did their recording. I worked through each of the 5 groups which took nearly 90 minutes all up.

After lunch the camera operator and producers worked on their videos to add titles and end credits to the video using Windows Movie Maker.

Finally in the last 1/2 hour of school today we watched the videos and did some feedback.

Once I’ve got permission from parents I hope to be able to share some videos with others.

It was an exciting day!

SODA – start of day activity

Busy Teacher’s Cafe — Classroom Management Page….ideas and tips to help manage and organize your classroom

In my classroom I begin my day with SODA – it’s based around Tony Ryan’s thinkers keys – apparently I’ve started a revolution because quite a number of parents (of kids in other classes) who attended a seminar run by one of my parents (on how children learn) and other teachers in my school have come up to me and talked about SODA or asked about it …

bulletin board

this website has a page of free journal activities – downloadable by the month with a journal writing topic for each day – i’m going to adapt what is on these pages and use a monthly planner like this for my SODA – at the moment i have it typed into my term planner (i’m using a self-created electronic planning book rather than a print one) but if i had a monthly planner just for SODA i can then share it with others as well as having it ready for use

sample of monthly journal page

Blogged with the Flock Browser

So this is who is responsible for the crashes …

Wine-ing 2.0: Gary Vaynerchuck Takes Down Twitter with Happiness