This week we started back at school. I had rearranged the groups slightly and made sure that all computers were working and online during the holidays. My planning was complete and I had a full-on week of activities planned.
Then Monday occurred and along with it 4 computers out of service! One was my original classroom computer that was looping (registry problem) and the other three were the xtenda box computers (three virtual computers running off one box).
It took till Wednesday for the xtenda technician to arrive at school – he spent about 20 mins doing something (I was teaching at the time) then just said, “not my problem, not xtenda, computer is the problem” and left. After reporting this to the DP I then contacted our usual tech who picked the computer box up on Thursday morning and then Thursday afternoon sent me a text telling me my PC had come back to life again (dust on ram or something). He was back today to get it all up and running.
The really interesting thing was that the kids took all this in their stride. I explained that we couldn’t do all that was planned – we’d do some of it – and that we’d do some other stuff instead.
No moans or groans. They just accepted that sometimes the computers break and that we just get on with it. Pretty mature attitude for 7 and 8 year olds.
After reading some blog posts and wiki information about ‘inspired’ classrooms I decided that I wanted to try moving my computers away from the wall and into the middle of the classroom and base each group around one computer – instead of rotating students/groups around the classroom they could rotate their activity and have a specific computer they would use.
Great idea but big problem – only 4 computers. I still moved the computers and decided to try bringing 2 laptops to school and have 2 groups using them.
That kind of worked except 4-5 people round one laptop isn’t idea as the screen size is too small.
Then I went on the scrounge. A neighbouring teacher had a computer that was unused. Another computer had been left anonymously in the teachers PD room. Problem solved. Except for the problem of cables and where exactly to put the computers.
In the end I sacrificed 2 student desks (one unused) for the computers and got them set up. I discovered one of the computers was running Win98 but amazingly the digistore objects and other activities are working ok (so far!).
Cabling was the next hurdle. I have a small box that allows one input and 4 outputs – 3 of the computers are actually one computer with an extenda/expanda (I can never remember the name) system on it so they only take one output; the other 3 went to the 3 other computers; however I often need to use the ethernet cable to connect online – especially if I want to skype – so I brought in two very long ethernet cables from home (3-storey house!) and have one duct-taped down and the other loose that I can use (unplug another connection to plug mine in) for my teacher laptop. I also spent several hours working out which other cable was the longest for another of the computers.
I also decided to have 6 groups with computers instead of 5. I have 4 students who go out to a part-time class from 9:30 – 12:30 which leaves me with 25 students – 5×5; but if I reduce the size of the groups (5×4 and 1×5) then access to the computers within the groups will be easier.
So far so good. Here’s a little slide show I put together in PhotoPeach about my Classroom2.0.
Today started off with lots of drama. I went to school early knowing I needed to finish up last night’s work in rearranging the classroom. Just as well as I discovered that the ethernet cable I laid (and duct taped) was faulty. No problems replacing it and firing up the computers. I flicked onto the internet and thought my eyes were deceiving me – Watchdog had blocked my home page on my classroom computers. Thinking I’d clicked on some strange link I tried again – still the same blocked message.
“Oh FLip” I thought (ok – that’s not exactly what I thought but I’m sure your imagination can fill in the appropriate words!) I went over to the office and expressed my dismay to Mike, our principal. After some investigation we discovered that Watchdog had blocked Blogger/Blogspot – Mike had a blog there which was also blocked – not just my pages.
Mike phoned Watchdog and left a message and I went back to my classroom to get the day started. Luckily today is Friday and we start the day out of the classroom with syndicate singing, Jump Jam and usually (but not today) School Assembly.
By the time we got back to the classroom and check the website it had been unblocked! The cheer from my students almost raised the roof.
The rest of the day went well apart from me forgetting to send student portfolios home (will do that on Monday.) Here are a few glimpses of my rearranged classroom.
I stood on a chair to get this shot – gives you an idea of the four radial groups each with desktop comps and the two group without comps.
Another shot of the radial groups.
One of the groups brainstorming – trying out the Wallwisher brainstorming site.
This group was planning today’s skype session. They read the guidelines and wrote their script and assigned tasks. (And did a fantastic job – we had problems with skype and they remained patient throughout the whole session.)
Two groups have no desktop computers. I brought in my personal iBook for a group to use – they had a quick lesson in how to use a mac and away they went. (When I first got a laptop under the teacher scheme I was very precious about it – I still am – but for this I’m making an exception and until I can get another computer I will supply my own.)
This group is working on my teacher laptop (MacBook).
So the day turned out ok. But oh my … what on earth possessed Watchdog to block Blogger/Blogspot overnight?
Seems that there’s an occasional problem with Time Machine – today mine said that I didn’t have the appropriate access to use my external FreeAgent drive for backing up my MacBook – no problems with my iBook however!
A google search later and I found this work-a-round:
What to do if Time Machine reports you don’t have permission
This was posted in the Apple Discussions by V.K. I have only modified it slightly to be more generic.
The problem seems to be that 10.5.6 changes permissions on a file so that even the root user doesn’t have write peivileges. I have no idea why they did this. The workaround suggested in another post will probably work, too, but i did something less drastic. Instead of deleting the file I changed permissions on it, and it worked just fine. An added benefit is that the permission change seems to stick, so you don’t have to delete the file every time you change a drive.
[Open the Terminal application in your Utilities folder. At the prompt enter the following command:
sudo chmod 644 /volumes/”TM drive name”/.xxxxxxxxxxxx
The name of the file .xxxxxxxxxxxx is based on the MAC address of your computer and will be different for every computer. Put the name of the TM drive in the above and keep the quotes.
You’ll have to enter your admin password (which you won’t see) which is normal.
This worked brilliantly – took all of 5 mins and my backup is up and running again.
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.
earlier this year i trialled a box system of computers (softexpand) – school went with xpandabox (no idea how it’s spelt!)
today i got three back which means i now have 4 computers running – unfortunately these three that are connected can only run ONE instance of firefox at a time (not particularly helpful) so i d/l chrome and will run IE on one
and hopefully my kids will be back blogging and sharing work during the final 5 weeks of school …
ok – well – i’ve been playing with some new STUFF over the last few days/weeks …
Twitter – kinda like a giant online global conversation
Flock – new kind of browser that integrates all sorts of social networking stuff – blogging from within flock is quite seamless – especially if you have multiple blogs
Diigo – bookmarking on steroids – i previously have used del.icio.us for bookmarking
Cellfone – heh – i got a new cellphone (Motorola RAZR V3X) and have been playing with camera and video functions – and mobile posting of pictures to Flickr & Photobucket and mobile posting of videos to Youtube
as it’s a software/system trial i will have to keep a log of problems as well as what we do on the computer – how much we are using it (so we can sell to BOT when the time comes to advocate for more than one computer in a classroom)