Collaborative teaching in a traditional environment – EDTalk

Collaborative teaching in a traditional environment from EDtalks on Vimeo.



I don’t often rave about apps but this one is definitely ‘rave-able’! Craig posted yesterday about using this app in his classroom so I thought I’d download it and show it to my class today. Well – talk about excited! They got together with buddies and scripted some quick maths videos.



I found a ‘relatively’ quiet place for them to do the recording and left them to it. Half the class has had a go already and the rest will have a go tomorrow. They really enjoyed working like this and reckon they won’t forget their demos when it comes time to use them during maths lessons.

Here are four of the videos they created.




EDM310 Students

Over the course of this year this blog has been visited by students from Dr John Strange’s EDM 310 class. When the first student commented here I was amazed that my blog was chosen. I don’t see my blog as being anything unusual – it’s really a way of reflecting on my own teaching practice.

To the students from EDM310 who visit – welcome.

Thanks for taking some time to read and comment on my blog. Please feel free to ask me questions about anything you don’t understand – even if it’s why I’ve done something in a particular way. I don’t have all the answers but what I do have is a wide group of people who are my PLN – I communicate with them through blogging, twitter, email, skype etc. Collectively we work together to be the best, most passionate teachers we can be.

I hope your Summer course is one that will be life-changing for you. I look forward to your comments/questions/blog posts.

Perhaps I should explain the ‘dragonsinger’. Many years ago, before the internet was around, I was an active participant on BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) and needed to find a nickname. I had been reading the Anne McCaffrey series ‘Dragonriders of Pern‘. Menolly is the main character on the ‘Dragonsinger: Harper of Pern‘ book. She is a woman, singer, musician and teacher. Because I fit all those characteristics I realised that I’d found my online nickname.

Digital Art

I am not an artist – at least I’m not a graphic artist (although I am a musician!). Sometimes as a teacher it’s hard to inspire your students in an area you are personally weak in – like art for me. How is it then that we are currently completing our 3rd major piece of art in 7 weeks? (Given my reputation for lack of art work – in previous years I’ve used the excellent art ability of my CRT teacher to produce art work!)

The answer is a session I attended at Ulearn09 presented by my friend Rachel Boyd. I really attended it in order to pick up some information to share back with our junior teachers but I’ve ended up using the ideas for my classroom. Her session was called “Juniors can do IT” – and if you get a chance to attend one of her workshops you must because it really should be STUDENTS can do IT (and teachers for that matter). I’ve embedded one version of her slideshow below:

Our first piece of art is demonstrated in slide #21 – photo symmetry. Here’s our result:

cc licensed flickr photo shared by dragonsinger

The second piece of art was a kind of blue screening effect (slide #22) where the students sketched a picture with them in it; then a buddy took a photo of them in the correct pose for the picture; printed the picture and cut themselves out; drew the background and stuck themselves into the picture. Here’s our results:

cc licensed flickr photo shared by dragonsinger

cc licensed flickr photo shared by dragonsinger

The third piece (and not all finished) was a take on Andy Warhol style pop art (slide #23). We did two versions – using 4 colours for each set of 4 pictures. Instead of paint or dye we used pastels or coloured pencils for our pictures. Some of the colour choices were quite inspired.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by dragonsinger

The best thing about art work like this is it draws on my strengths (technology) and incorporates creativity. Thanks to Rachel I’m exploring new avenues of expression (as is my class).

They say a change is as good as a holiday …

I’m not really sure who they are but I suspect they are sort of right.

I guess it depends on what we do with the change or even how we approach it but if we do it right it’s great.

The change for me is moving into a new classroom (ex-library) and up a level – from teaching Year 3&4 (Grade 2&3) to Year 5 (Grade 4). Our “middle” part of the school will have 3 vertical teams each with 4 classes and each class teaching a separate year level – Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 & Year 6. It’s the first time we’ve done something like this at our school but I think it’s exciting.

Because we are a full primary school (Y0-Y8) our Year 6 students are in a bit of a limbo – other primary schools that only go to Year 6 have leadership roles which the Year 5&6 students take up – but in our school those roles are given to the Year 7&8 students. By having vertical teams we should (theoretically) be able to see some of our Year 5/6 students being given opportunities to show leadership within our teams.

I was initially apprehensive of moving up to Year 5 – my previous experience teaching in that level wasn’t so great – but it was in our old format and I was job-sharing and once I realised that it was going to be different then I began to be quite excited by the prospect. Although I will only have 3 students moving with me (the rest being shared out among the other Year 4 & 5 classes) I will still have a core who’ve been through our fantastic year and who’ve done much of the eLearning experimenting/experiencing with me (including my fantastic student who featured in my Ulearn09 presentation). These 3 students will be my ‘experts’ for the first term.

My new classroom is going to be fantastic – we move in on Monday and when we visited the empty library today the kids started planning out where desks and “learning space” (not my term!) could be. We’ll have a week and a half in there before we break for our summer holidays. I shot a short video of the library before the books were packed; after they were packed and the shelves moved; I’ll shoot one on the weekend when my son and I move some of the gear over and then another short one with the desks and kids in there. Then I’ll merge them all and post here.

I’m looking forward to next year – it’s going to be another exciting, fast moving, thrilling eLearning journey for me and my class.

And my motto for next year?

I have two (which I am going to turn into posters for the classroom):

  • Learning is about taking a risk
  • Learning is about flying high
  • Both inspired by an old book (late 70’s publication) I have called “Skies Call 2” full of skydiving photos taken by Andy Keech that has some truly spectacular photo shots. (The one below features on the cover of the book.)

    My class will be the Room Nine High Divers. We’re going to dive into learning, take risks, enjoy new challenges and soar to new heights.

    National Standards

    There’s a lot of talk happening about National Standards – probably more people are talking about them than about anything else introduced over the last few years. We’ve been working with Murray Gadd and he likened the National Standards to signposts and tied them in with Literacy Learning Progressions and the new National Curriculum.

    Here’s a clip from Core-Ed featuring John Hattie.

    Inspirational Teachers

    It’s not the technology in our classrooms it’s the passion and vision we have. This via Justine (Rt:@NZChrissy RT:@Shareski Via @ujdmc)

    eLearning + Classroom2.0

    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.

    Classroom2.0 on PhotoPeach

    Blocked websites, drama and connectiveness oh my

    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?

    Literacy workshop – Murray Gadd

    We had a Teacher Only day on Friday with Murray Gadd facilitating. He’s been in and out all year working on literacy with us. I started up an Etherpad window and two of us (with occasional input from our principal) used it to take notes. At the end of the session I sent a PDF copy of the notes to Mike (principal) which he then emailed to all staff.

    We even had a couple of tweeple pop in to see what was happening – a great way to share learning with others.

    One of the very cool things that Murray does is read books to us (well – to whoever he’s facilitating with) and while some of us already know about some of the books there’s always something new to discover. I’ve bolded the books he read.

    Here’s the unedited copy of our notes. (ok – I have done a little editing with links and removing stuff for our staff only!)

    Reading workshop #2 with Murray Gadd

    W/shop focus – comprehension strategies/teaching of vocabulary/effective reading responses

    (Indicators in curriculum are only indicators not must haves)

    Our job to teach the processes and strategies …

    * Literacy Learning Progressions
    * Reading & writing national standards

    BOOK: Sunday Chutney by Aaron Blabey

    Key competencies – in the story – relating to others/managing self/participating and contributing/thinking/using language etc

    Comprehension strategies

    * are kids using sources of information – to make connections – visual clues/textual clues etc

    * are kids using processing strategies – attending and searching/predicting/cross checking/self correct

    * comprehension – (How do we bring meaning to it)

    “when readers taught to use CS their comprehension improves”

    “What research has to say about reading instruction”chapter 13 p 398
    “Metacognition and self-regulated comprehension”

    BOOK: Stellaluna – by Jannell Cannon

    Good book for friendship stuff

    What would kids need to have to understand this book?

    (P131-133 Effective Lit book yrs1-4)

    (1) Making connections with what we already know

    (Good example to use for a narrative – i think we have it in the library)

    (2) Forming and testing hypotheses about texts – using clues / predicting -then testing to see if my hypothesis or prediction is correct / then reflect

    (3) Ask questions of themselves about what they are reading

    * think alouds – “i wonder what that means?” etc

    (4) Creating mental images/visualising

    (when you go to a movie after reading the book and it’s not so good)

    Share how we get the picture in our heads (conections of images with words)
    different people get different pictures – makes the story broader?

    powerful verbs – well-chosen adjectives/verbs

    Using prior knowledge about the words to create an image – Applying senses

    (5) inferring meaning

    (Refer: Zoo by Anthony Browne –

    “Mr Gadd stormed into the room with a face like thunder.” finding the clues

    word, phrase or picture clues about meaning in text
    Link to prior knowledge

    “murray kicked the ball. he was good at rugby.”
    * the ball is a rugby ball
    * He = Murray

    * pronouns often confusing for kids
    * kids understanding of phrases and clauses can often cause problems (especially if clause is at beginning of sentence)

    (6) Identifying the author’s purpose & POV

    * if i know why then it might help my response to the story
    * author’s style very important (ie Anthony Browne) Voices in the Park is a great example
    * “How do you think the author felt about the situation?”

    (How can we be so different but feel so much alike. – check the line – end of Stellaluna)

    (7) Summarise main ideas

    * need to find the indicators
    * can introduce via the structure of writing type – like narrative
    “What was the complication?”
    “Which part is the orientation? – what is happneing there”
    * demonstrate summarising to kids

    (8) Identifying the main idea
    * comes from author’s purpose
    “If you were the writer what would your main idea be?”

    (9) Analysing and synthesizing

    ZOO: analysed dad and came to conclusions

    * Reflecting on what’s it all about

    (10) Evaluating ideas and information

    “How does it affect me?” (My reading , my view of text, compare against what i already know)

    These 10 are not in isolation – use them together.

    [Page 5/6 recognising comprehension strategies – refer to this for examples of teacher talk!]

    [See photo notes in evernote]

    Effective literacy Practice
    Chapter 5: Year 1 to Year 4 book (Year 5 – Year 8 Pgs 141 to 151)
    134-135 – Strategies

    Reference Copy Explaing Reading by Gerald Duffy – to be bought.

    Teaching reading comprehension – Alison Davis

    How do we teach comprehension strategies?

    * describe
    * demonstrate
    * scaffold

    start in little steps – paragraph/page etc

    * encourage students to use – could be great to model using the mimio!
    (don’t be too excessive – that’s giving us permission to throw out the instruction and have some fun in reading at times!)”Just read the story!”

    Will our new national standards encourage teachers to look only at the strategies to ensure that a goal is reached rather than teacher the essence of good reading?

    Readers find clues. Writers put clues in. – Inferring

    Show – don’t tell – e.g. use other words to describe that someone is old

    Today’s kids don’t have the oral language – less time in books more time in front of screens – screens not necessarily bad but people need to be reading


    Teaching Vocabulary to improve reading comprehension pp1-2
    By William E Nagy

    Bringing words to life by Elizabeth Beck?

    BOOK: Pearl Barley and Charley Parsley by Aaron Blabey

    (lovely bedside manner – what a hoot!)

    (they’re different and THAT is why they are such good friends!)

    Nagy “Vocab knowledge … ” pp1-2

    If we simply teach students more words they will understand text better

    learning new words means aquiring new meaning

    how and why one can choose and adapt vocab-related activities

    in-depth word knowledge – meaning, structure, associations, derivation

    american stats – scary – high decile = 8000 words by year 3/ low decile = 4000 words by year 3

    Students should not be expected to learn more than 6 or 7 new words in a reading lesson
    teaching 25 word meanings per week is a reasonable goal

    high quality texts – Regular and extensive reading of is probably the single largest source of vocab growth (Increase volume of reading)

    all the words that mean beautiful – linking hte words together

    start with the meaning and ask them to find the word (rather than the other way around)

    Incidental word learning is important

    we can make sense of what is going on if we know at least 85% of the words

    teahcers are models … use words … i find words exciting!!!! teach that excitement to the kids – word of the day/word of the week – display – could have kids find different places where they see the word and bring to share

    BOOK: The first easter bunny
    By Kate Walker (read by one of our teachers)

    Another book on accepting others differances

    Pre Reading

    Introducing Key Words that may be a challenge to students
    Students predicting what words might be in text. -Can be added to/checked off during and/or after reading

    During Reading

    Teaching new words through context
    Looking closely at the structure of words to find meaning clues
    Find and identify words in text connected closely to the topic or theme

    Post Reading

    Exploring all aspects of vocab knowledge (Meaning, derivation, structure, related words, synonyms and antonyms) using things like:

    Semantic webs
    Clines – words with degrees of meaning – ie – hot, tepid, warm, luke-warm etc
    Semantic feature analysis
    Venn Diagrams
    Hierarchical array
    Barrier games/matching words with definitions – could do on mimio
    Close activities
    Word associations – police – trouble – kids – children – trouble 😉
    Finishing sentances meaningfully – The boy played in the park and….
    Clustering words according to meaning (Give kids whole list of words and they group all that mean the same.)
    Telephone whispers – Similiar to chiniese whispers
    Call my bluff – Give 3 or 4 def’s and chdn decide which is the right one
    Linear arrays
    Coffee pot game (for context) – I left my “coffee pot” this morning {house}
    in the manner of the word (secret adverb) ask someone to do an action in the mannaer of the word
    My Aunt likes… double letter ie apples but not pears, green but not red

    Can be done independently or with teacher – follow up activity can assess students understanding of a non-fiction text

    hierarchical – looks like a good one for using with mimio

    BOOK: Something else – (different cover)
    – Accepting others again

    Reading Responses
    Related activities after reading should link directly to the learning goal or focus and the text being considered. Students should be able to see these links. related activities can also be FUN!!!!

    KWL – more suited for non-fiction
    (Brainboxes we have in Team B could be good place to start)
    Template avail on mimio also

    The reading activity handbook – sheneah cameron

    Students should be given a variety of reading responses:
    – Oral language act (“The main ideas in this text are…” “In my own words this text is about…”)

    – Word/ Vocab act

    – Writing act (using graphic organisers, storyboards, timelines, flow chart, diary entry for a character in the story, creating a news item{radio, tv, paper}, emotions chart, Writing to the author to describe their feelings towards the text, Creating a “Who am i?” puzzle for others, writind a similar story or poem.)

    – Related art/music/drama act (Wanted poster, model or diorama about key section of text, book mark)

    – Research act

    online/digital responses – create your own superhero for the story/avatar/online story boarding etc

    creating photographic freeze frames/slide shows/movies

    These should be changed regularly so that children are “captured” by new responses

    Pick a card – variety of response on cards (upside down)

    shopping for pyjamas

    make their own books
    reading from the wall
    buddy reading
    online reading
    interactive reading and writing on the comp/mimio
    listening to other text at listening posts
    reading from independent book boxes


    BOOK: the cats in krasinski square