Graphic tales make novel teaching tools: an Age article

Uploaded To Flickr by Litandmore (2008)

Animation video: Saving the planet

At our school we have a number of students who are very committed to looking after the environment. We regularly get an email about what we can do to help. From english@kkc, an blog for English students at Katikati College, I found this little animation, using the song Money makes the world go around and created by WWF Brazil, a message about saving the planet. This blog has a lot of interesting ideas for teaching, especially in the area of English.

Teaching, learning and sharing the load

Flickr CClicence by Fudj

Compartment (Flickr CClicence by Fudj)http://www.flickr.com/photos/fudj/121722150/

 I was reading Jenny Luca’s post entitled No idea: a post to read. I then read about a post by a young teacher, Todd Seal, about how  he is feeling in the classroom. Most of the comments also reflected that same feeling I got from the post. The “feel” was of a sense of loneliness or “aloneness” in the classroom by the teachers or, more specifically, secondary school teachers. I have been working in schools for many years now and have tried to overcome this sense that teaching, by necessity, has to be done in isolation.

Why do so many teachers work alone? Is it through choice or design? I would suggest that it is a combination of both. The training of new teachers seems to have remained basically the same since the early nineteen hundreds, if not longer. Sure the tools have changed but it seem that trainee teachers still come out with the view of teaching an classrooms. That their place of work is a closed space, often the arrangement of the furniture dictating that students work with the teacher at the front. Continue reading

Deletionpedia – Where Wikipedia’s deleted pages go

After writing about Wikipedia and Veropedia I thought I should mention Deletionpedia. There is a very good entry about this on the BraveNewWorld blog.

If you’ve ever tried to find a Wikipedia article that you swear was once there, or can’t believe a page doesn’t exist, there may be chance it’s over at Deletionpedia, a non-wiki database that automatically picks up the things that get dropped off the better known counterpart.

Deletionpedia is an archive of about 63,551 pages which have been deleted from the English-language Wikipedia. You cannot edit any of the pages uploaded here. An automated bot uploads pages as they are deleted from Wikipedia and, as you might imagine, some of the stuff at DeletionPedia was taken down because it either became irrelevant or wasn’t all that relevant to begin with. There are other occasional obscure but interesting/useful facts or biographical entries voted off for the subject not being well-known enough. It may be a useful destination if Wikipedia doesn’t quite have what you need.

Print-on-demand books: now in store

Print-on-demand has the potential to be one of the most important developments in the growth of the digital world by aiding accessibility of books to the public. Soon a book will never be out of print with what’s been described as the ATM for books. The A&R store in Bourke St., Melbourne, is the only one with this option but 50 more such machines will be installed throughtout Australia and NZ. I really like the notion that the ideas, words, etc. in out-of-print, or hard-to-get, books are now readily available.

I also love the feel of the physical book, the smell of the pages, the look of the cover, the sheer tactile nature of (hardback) books. (Yes, I try to by hardback books whenever I can!) I would always choose to by the physical book for these reasons but I can see that the opportunity, to read the words of the many out-of-print manuscripts, is a step forward. Burning the physical book will no longer be enough to stop the communication between author and reader. Many Australian readers like to buy books and/or go to the local library to borrow the physical book, but here is another option that has merit.

read more | digg story

Parents as Partners in learning

I wrote in an earlier post about involving parents. I believe we need to do more to help parents understand why we are using technology in our schools, that technology is not the end in itself but a means to an end. The skills that we want the students to learn are the important focus in our teaching and the fact that we can use technology to create a range of interesting, real-world and authentic learning experiences, that engage our students, is a great bonus.

I am thinking about having a section on our intranet that allows parents to obtain information they require and/or an understanding of the technological skills that their sons are developing. After completing a version of the “23 Things” program, my idea would be to create something similar for our parents. We currently have 3 technology evenings for parents of our year 7 students and these could continue and exist alongside the on-line information. I would not have to “reinvent the wheel”, there are many existing models available,  just modify the information to meet the needs of our parents. The information does not have to be in the form of a tutorial but designed to answer questions, as they may occur to parents. Graham Wegner had some interesting ideas on his blog, now called Open Education, about helping parents understand about technology use in schools. We are also working on some cyber safety information for teachers, students and parents. This is a real concern for many parents, and it seems the media outlets think it that it more commercially beneficial to emphasise only the bad, rather than a more balanced and holistic view.

There are many sites that I will try to bring together and utilise. One of the first might be the following: “How to understand your kid’s text messages” on Mahalo ( they have a parenting how-to category where they are putting up all sorts of information.) This is a  good guide to texting language. It gets into reasons for abbreviations and is much more than just a list of “net words”. Good for both parents and teachers alike.

We now have a two week break from classes and I will think more about how this might work.

To finish this, from CoolCatTeacher (2007):

 “American Education continues to be afraid of technology and ignore its importance to our future as a nation and the future of our children. We must move ahead and use technology to teach and to keep our kids safe. Wisely used technology can be a friend of education. Ignorance is the enemy.”

Wikipedia’s reliability validated

Following on from the article about Veropedia compared to Wikipedia, I was investigating more about each. I stumbled on to an article about Wikipedia in 48 Hours on Wikipedia posted by Kent Anderson. He discussed the finding af a study in First Monday. This quick but effective small study analyzed how quickly errors in Wikipedia are picked up and corrected. The author of the study, P. D. Magnus, introduced incorrect information (called “fibs”) into some Wikipedia articles about famous philosophers. He then waited to see how long it took for the errors to be corrected.

The study showed that Wikipedia’s methods for checking for small inaccuracies are validated. The answer to the question “how quickly are errors picked up?”, is that they are found and dealt with expediently. Some errors were corrected within/around 2 hours. Within 48 hours, those that had not been corrected, had been flagged as needing adjustment.

When Wikipedia first began many teachers, teacher librarians and librarians spoke out about the validity of something like Wikipedia. There were many who were very sceptical about how reliable such a resource could be. I did not have a problem with students using Wikipedia, although I believe that for many younger students many articles become too much for them. I believe, as always, all material should be checked from several sources anyway. The results from this study provide more than just anecdotes about the reliability of Wikipedia articles.

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