Minimally Invasive Assessment

And here’s where it all started – this is our EdTalk from Ulearn2012.

Minimally invasive assessment from EDtalks on Vimeo.

Using Sparkol Videoscribe

Over the past week Tara and I have been working on our research report – we decided to do it as a series of short videos – and have ended up getting a Sparkol Pro Videoscribe account to do this. While quite easy to use, it does take some time to create a finished product – especially if you’re wanting to do a voiceover as part of the video. We created the first two episodes in a trial account and iMovie, the third will be done entirely in the pro account (and iMovie for the voice over), and the fourth has been done in a mixture of trial, pro, and iMovie.

However, we have also seen the promise of using this as a classroom tool – not for the kids – but for us to create short snappy videos of concepts and ideas we want the kids to master. Here’s a short video about writing. All videos will be CC licensed for others to use.

Beyond Narrow Standards – Episode 2

Beyond Narrow Standards – Episode 1

To Chromebook or Not to Chromebook …

I’m just back from a month in the UK – mainly holiday – and visiting family and friends – and a conference (Thinking Digital UK) where we had the privilege to speak about our experiences of teaching using some of Sugata Mitra’s SOLE ideas AND to meet him as he spoke directly after us! Everything about the month was wonderful – we visited places and people and had a great time. Towards the end of the month we decided to invest in a Chromebook each – something we’d talked about doing but weren’t sure we could afford to. I’m so glad we did. I love mine.

  • It was very easy to set up – read that as I didn’t have to do anything in order to get going – any setting up has been for apps I wanted to try out.
  • It is very quick – I started both my Chromebook and my Macbook up at the same time – I was browsing on the Chromebook before my Mac login page had even appeared.
  • It is very unobtrusive regarding popups – I hate the ‘there’s an update ready’ popups on my Mac and am forever hiding them – on the Chromebook there are no popups just a little up arrow that appears in the bottom right hand corner so you can update when you’re ready.


  • Updating is quick – just restart and it’s done.
  • Backups are a piece of cake – it’s all cloud based – I got 100GB free for 2 years – not that I’ll ever use it all. (Mac backups are easy but nothing like this – and I get an annoying popup (this time saying I haven’t backed up for 33 days – the length of time I’ve been out of the country) which I have to deal with.


  • Offline docs/mail are automatically enabled – I’m yet to test this as I live in a wifi environment.
  • At school my Mac is connected up to the interactive whiteboard – the Chromebook gives me the opportunity to do other work without having to ask kids to stop their work.
  • All my work for school is in Google or Wikispaces – my students use Google Apps for Education as well – the Chromebook is all that is needed for that kind of work.
  • At school we print via Cloud -> no problems for the CB – at home I have an old classic printer at the moment – but have just managed to print via my Mac/CloudPrint/USB cable – but even if I couldn’t do that because I’m working in Chrome I could just open the file in Chrome on my Mac to print.
  • I can connect remotely to my Macbook and even run apps/programmes – handy if I’ve taken a screenshot on the mac and want it on the Chromebook – which is what I did with the two screenshots above!
  • Creating videos isn’t a problem – you can now create a webcam video live on youtube AND edit and remix it – fantastic project for kids to work on. (Or they can use the WeVideo chrome app.)

There’s a lot of debate about iPad vs Netbook for kids – how about a Chromebook instead? In a school environment (especially one like my classroom) this is all you need. A lot of time saved in setting up from my perspective. At home we’ve had the kids (16, 12, 8 – all boys) using it – they get their own login (their email accounts) and all their own settings – no longer do we have to log out of someone else’s facebook or email as it’s all contained within their logins. And because it’s cloud based they can access anything they do from any other computer in the house. Is it the computer to end all computers – I don’t think so – I’m still a Mac fan – but I love the ease of using this – because it’s so quick to start up I’m reaching for it before the Mac. I can see that it won’t be long before I just leave my Mac at school and take my Chromebook back and forwards. (OK – that won’t actually happen until next term since I’m still on sabbatical!)

So my verdict to the “To Chromebook or Not” is definitely give it a go!

Collaborative teaching in a traditional environment – EDTalk

Collaborative teaching in a traditional environment from EDtalks on Vimeo.

ICTs and Reluctant Writers

Gagging teachers

Just a short post to ask a question – and hopefully get some answers!

What control do you think a school principal/management/BOT should have over whether a teacher is allowed to use twitter or blogger or other social networks to express their opinions on teaching, education etc.?

(This would be on well established personal accounts.)


What does the ‘e’ stand for anyway?

I’ve had this post hovering in my head for some months now. We used to talk about ICT and now we talk about eLearning – but what does the ‘e‘ stand for?

A lot of people seeing the connection between ICT and eLearning just assume it means electronic because most people involved in eLearning are using technology in their classrooms but I disagree.

The key word is LEARNING – because that’s what it’s all about. As for the e – here are some suggestions for what it could stand for:

  • enhanced
  • enriched
  • electronic
  • enabling
  • enquiry
  • encompassing
  • engaged
  • enduring
  • enabling
  • enjoying

What are your thoughts – do you have any other ‘e’ words that could fit into the e of eLearning?

Term 1 Reflection

Where on earth did Term 1 go? The 10 weeks of Term 1 were some of the most exciting, challenging, and exhausting of my teaching career.


I’m one third of a collaborative teaching unit – we’re the 3 Js – Jo C, Jo F (me) and Julie K. In Term 1 we worked with 2 classes – 25 year 3/4 and 29 year 5/6. Term 2 sees the addition of 25 year 2 students. We started the year working mostly with our own classes. During those first weeks we met together as a team – we have a ‘hub celebration’ followed by PE skills on Monday mornings as well as fitness sessions together. 


Week 6 saw us begin to work together during our topic sessions. Jo, Julie, and I had spent a Sunday working together talking about where we thought the unit would go (Energy) and came up with a couple of starter activities. The first was a wonderful collaborative art project created in groups of 4 students mixed from our two classes. It was amazing to see the students working together – talking with each other, and seeing the older students taking a leadership role. We followed this with a beginning discussion ‘What is Energy?’ 


At the end of the day Julie and I were exhausted but we both agreed – ‘We can’t ever go back to single class teaching!’ 


What we’re doing is the most natural thing in the world to me. It makes no sense at all to restrict kids to an age group and a single teacher – and we’ve seen the two classes respond so well that at times onlookers wouldn’t be able to tell who is in ‘my’ class and who is in Julie’s.  To me the reward is seeing how much all these kids are enjoying themselves – the younger kids just love working with the older ones, and the older ones just love having younger ones looking up to them. 


Our goals for our kids are to help them become self-managing learners – from the year 2s up. We believe that they are capable of managing themselves (with guidance and support) and we believe that they are flexible enough to work with three different teachers. There’s no ‘dummy’ class for core curriculum subjects – in fact we’ll develop our roles so that it’s not just me teaching the top groups or Jo C teaching the bottom groups – it’s flexible teaching.