Sunday, 30 December 2012

Wikispaces in the Classroom

Back in September, my school collaborated with two other schools in the area for a Professional Development Day in order to share skills, resources and ideas. A few teachers from each school offered different workshops for other staff members to participate in. I was involved in running a workshop with another colleague and we chose technology as the focus. In particular, it was about using Wikispaces in the Classroom.

If you’ve never heard of Wikispaces before, it is basically a secure website that you can use with your class to post work, pictures and facilitate discussion. You can add pictures, video, audio and web links etc.

I’ve included some screenshots below to show some of the pages from my class’ wikipage.

As part of the Professional Development Workshop I put together a step-by-step guide on how to set up, customize and effectively use Wikispaces. I have put up all of these instructions on my Tech Tutorials page.


WeCreate Awards

I'd like to share a little victory that my class had this year. My class (known as the Year Three Superstars) entered the WeCreate awards, which is an initiative of the Curriculum and Learning Innovation CentreWe entered the 'eStory' category, which involved creating a digital story using a language learnt at school (we chose Vietnamese). We used iMovie to put the video together.

Our entry made it to the finals and they we WON! It was the first time I had entered any competition like it and victory upon our first entry was pretty cool. We attended the award ceremony back in November at the Sydney Opera House.  

I've embedded the video, however viewing it on the screen cuts off the captions (which is fine if you understand Vietnamese!) It's probably best for viewing on the following link:
I'm pretty sure the links stay viable until next years winners are put up in their place (Nov. 2013).

The eStory was inspired by 'Are We There Yet?' by Alison Lester. If you're not familiar, it is about a family who take a journey around Australia to discover the natural wonders and awesome sites.
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On top of that, we have some seasoned professionals at our school when it comes to technology. They also entered into different categories of the WeCreate awards and we won all four categories that we entered! Our school definitely cleaned up on the day!

You can view the other competition winners from my school using the links below:


Reciprocal Teaching Animations

As part of our whole school professional development this year, there has been a major focus on Reciprocal Teaching. We explored in depth the strategies of predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising.

I discovered an online program called GoAnimate that allows you to create animations. You can buy the full version, however, you are able to access part of the site on the free version (which is what I used to make the following animations). There is also a education version for students to use, as well, with more 'kid friendly' scenes and characters.

Using the program, I created animations to introduce the reciprocal teaching strategies. Feel free to use them in your classroom as appropriate :)

Predicting Animation by Mrs Brien on GoAnimate

Animation Software - Powered by GoAnimate.

Clarifying by Mrs Brien on GoAnimate

Animation Software - Powered by GoAnimate.

Questioning by Mrs Brien on GoAnimate

Animated Presentations - Powered by GoAnimate.

Summarising Animation by Mrs Brien on GoAnimate

Animation Software - Powered by GoAnimate.


Birds, Birds and More Birds!

In Year 2, we do a literacy unit on 'How the Birds Got Their Colours' by Pamela Lofts.
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Whenever I can, I like to integrate art into what we are learning in other Key Learning Areas. Here are some bird artworks that I've done with my class on birds.

I had students paint bird templates with water colours and then cut out and decorate with glitter and feathers.

Here I provided students with a simple tree template. They drew birds in the branches and then painted.

Firstly, students wove using different coloured strips of paper. Then they secured the weave with sticky tape on the back and cut out in the shape of a bird.


Saturday, 29 December 2012

Washing on the Line

Throughout the year, as we learnt different spelling rules and sounds I thought of an interesting way to display the words around the classroom. I just love hanging things up and what could be cuter than washing on the line.

I laminated a number of different coloured cardboard sheets and then cut them into various shapes - shirts, pants, socks and underwear. I just used a whiteboard marker over the top, so they can be cleaned off and used again.

I'm trying to think of a new way to use them next year. I think it's such a cute idea and the kids loved the clothes hanging around the room.


Behaviour Management

In my classroom, I utilise a combination of behaviour management strategies to promote on-task behaviour. These include individual, group and whole class rewards.

For individual good behaviour, students receive a sticker for their sticker chart (sorry- I don't have a pic of the charts). When the student has completed their sticker chart, they receive a small prize from the prize bag. If students are misbehaving or not doing their work, I try to focus attention on the students who are doing the right thing, in hope that this might redirect the attention and focus of the misbehaving student/s.

At the front of the classroom, there are three signs, which read: ‘I am doing the right thing’, ‘I need to try harder to do the right thing’ and ‘I am doing the wrong thing’, which are accompanied by a happy face, neutral face and sad face. Each day, the students’ names start on the happy face and if they misbehave their name is moved to the appropriate face. Students cannot receive a sticker for their chart if their name is not on the happy face.

As a group reward, students can earn table points. Tables with the most points might be able to get their lunch first, leave first for the day or line up first, for example.

As a whole class reward, students receive a ‘puzzle piece’. When the students have earned all pieces of the puzzle, they each receive a sticker for their sticker chart.

I have also used a star-coded effort rubric, where students note in their workbook how much effort they have put into the task.


Friday, 28 December 2012

Water Works

In Year 2, students are involved in a science unit called 'Water Works', where we investigate the uses of water around the school and home, the water cycle, the journey of water from the clouds to the tap and also the importance of water conservation.

Here is the display board created for the topic. For the water cycle frieze, students worked in small groups to either mosaic or crepe paper-scrunch the various components. Then I pieced them all together.

For another art lesson, students used wax crayons to draw on two large art papers then paint over them with a blue wash. Once dry, they were cut out into cloud shapes, stapled around the edges and stuffed with cotton wool.

In small groups, students created their own 'journey of water from the clouds to the tap' flow chart, using pictures and then writing a sentence on the back of each.

I love using the Smart Notebook software with students, and the following picture was created in the program. Students located the lake background in the gallery and labeled all the components appropriately.

Students had to create a poster using Comic Life, of different 'water saving' tips.

 Finally, we finished the unit with an excursion to Sydney's Warragamba Dam. Ironically, the excursion happened to take place on the day before I went on a holiday to America. So when I got back I was able to share pictures of America's Hoover Dam, which I visited along my travels.



Old Classroom Pics

As I am a teacher from Australia, we are at the beginning of our long Summer holiday break. We will begin our new school year after Australia Day at the end of January. So I can start 'sharing', I thought I'd begin by posting some ideas from previous years.

Here are some pictures from my classroom back in 2011, when I was teaching Grade 2.

Up in the back corner and out of the way is my desk. For the student tables, I had them arranged in a group/u-shape combination (sorry- a bit hard to see from the single photo).

Off to the side of the room was the wet area (a bit messy from artworks drying). The grade Literacy Support Teacher also had her desk in the room, which is hidden behind the book rack.

At the beginning of the year during a guided drawing session, I had students complete self portraits, which we displayed on a wall space. I saw this idea in the window of another fabulous teacher at my school and thought it was a cute idea, so I had to give it a try.


My First Blog of Many

Over the past few months, I have been on a journey of discovery. I have spent hours trawling through an abundance of amazing teaching blogs that have both inspired and motivated me. I have 'borrowed' (as teachers do best) many lesson, organisation, behaviour management and classroom display ideas to enhance my own teaching and also enhance the learning environment for my students. As such, I feel that it is about time that I give back to my fellow teaching community and share my ideas and resources. I hope someone, somewhere out there in the big, wide world, finds some use for something that I have to share!