Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Global Youth Challenge on Climate Change- Get Involved!! And Win Your Way to COP22

Submitted by Omashani Naidoo
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is seeking youth between 18 and 30 who are working on community or social action on Climate change. Why don’t you consider a project or campaign you are involved in to combat climate change, an action which convinced your parents, school or college to take climate action, a lobbying of your elected members of government or your city leaders. Whatever is making a difference, turn it into a snappy concise 3 minute video and join the competition. You could win a trip to Marrakesh.


The website The Global Youth Video Competition (UNFCCC) gives more details:

Lights, Camera, Marrakech—Win Your Way to COP22
If you are between the ages of 18 and 30 we want to hear about your inspiring actions. Think about a project or campaign you are involved in to combat climate change, an action which convinced your parents, school or college to take climate action, a lobbying of your elected members of parliament or your city leaders. Whatever is making a difference, turn it into a snappy concise 3 minute video and join the competition.

Some key questions to answer are:
• Why did you choose to engage in this climate action?
• What were some of the key things that took place?
• What were some of the successes?
• Where did these successes occur (locally, nationally or internationally)?
• How can youth from similar countries replicate the activities that have been implemented?

The Prizes
Each winner will receive:
• Round trip to COP22/CMP12 in Marrakech, Morocco from 07 November to 18 November 2016 (inclusive of accommodation and other expenses); and
• Position as a youth reporter for COP22/CMP12, responsible for assisting UNFCCC Newsroom team with videos, articles and social media posts.

Guidelines
- You convinced your school, employer or local/national government to take climate action;
- You created formal/non-formal mechanisms/spaces that enable dialogue between young people and company or government representatives on climate action;
- You contributed to government approved documents or regulations that address climate change;
- You have shaped a government’s position at an intergovernmental meeting on climate change;
- You have prevented new fossil fuel infrastructure;
- You have engaged the media on climate change;
- You have organized a successful divestment campaign.

Dates
Start date: May 20, 2016
End date: August 01, 2016

Rules and Regulations
The competition is open to young people between the ages of 18 and 30.

To submit your video, and learn more about the Rules and Regulations go to www.tvebiomovies.org.

The Global Youth Video Competition is collaboration between the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UNDP GEF-Small Grants Programme, the United Nations Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth, and Climate Change and Television for the Environment.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Lesson idea: Get your class to write a 'Choose your own adventure' story...

Have you ever considered getting your class to write a 'Choose your own adventure' story? This type of story was very popular in past times. Basically it is a story that has different endings based on decisions that were made. The reader can choose the ending they like the best. Writing a story like this encourages students to think 'What if' about situations, and they are made aware of the realization that most decisions have consequences. 

The definition of a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' story
“Choose Your Own Adventure is a series of children's gamebooks where each story is written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of the protagonist and making choices that determine the main character's actions and the plot's outcome.” (Wikipedia https://goo.gl/zJERVX)
This type of story works really well when you use PowerPoint or Google Slides. Let's look at some posts and stories shared by teachers around the world on how they tackled the process digitally.

1. Going Google with Primary Students: “Choose Your Own Adventure” in Google Slides by Rolland Chiliac http://goo.gl/Zro3VO

This is a great post by Rolland Chidiac showing how he went about getting his class to write these types of stories. He has a blog where he outlines the process in more detail: http://goo.gl/mFkq1i I rather like his story structure diagram that he shared with his class.


Here are some of his classroom examples:
2. ‘Using Google Apps to Make Interactive Stories’ by Sylvia Duckworth http://goo.gl/QAgwel
Sylvia Duckworth has tried this process using Google forms, Google Docs, Google Slides and YouTube annotations. She gives a useful diagram on how the story could be structured.

Sylvia has a Google site with the details of the task she sat: https://goo.gl/rCslF3. Sylvia provides a linked template that one can use for a ‘Choose your own adventure story’. https://goo.gl/YjNzDo

3. 'Creating Interactive Choose Your Own (Google) Adventure Stories' by Jonathon Wylie https://goo.gl/zcNHZq
Jonathon Wylie also showed how to get going in all four applications (Slides, Docs, Forms and YouTube annotations) on his blog in a post entitled 'Creating Interactive Choose Your Own (Google) Adventure Stories' https://goo.gl/zcNHZq This is what he says about Google presentations: “Want to try something different? Try using Google Presentations. Instead of creating pages, like you would with Forms, you create slides to tell your story. This gives you a little more flexibility in the visual design of your story, but it also opens up more options in terms of the media you can include…namely video. Slides can be linked together via the link function that you may normally use to insert a hyperlink, only this time you select 'Slides in this presentation' ".

Jonathon Wylie also shows how to link the slides once the story is completed:



4. Choose Your Own (Google) Adventure Stories” by Tony Amsler https://goo.gl/y8zQ3p
Tony Amsler gives detailed instructions on this process on a Google Sites page entitled, “Choose Your Own (Google) Adventure Stories” He demonstrates the story by creating an example about copyright!



5. 'Choose your own adventure with Google forms' by Michelle Armstrong https://goo.gl/WvgT0X
Michelle gives a presentation on how to write this kind of a story using Google forms. https://goo.gl/WvgT0X . I like the graphic she uses to explain the process:


Michelle also provides a link to a great linked slides template created by Chelsey Eminger https://goo.gl/PwQUXl


6. Classroom examples
  • Mrs Pice’s Grade 4 class gives some useful instructions on the process in this video, plus a display of all the stories http://goo.gl/tdu9OT
  • Here is a Grade 2 class’s selection of Christmas stories https://goo.gl/kpz6IA
7. The process in writing a choose your own adventure story
  1. Show students some sample stories:
  2. For example: Mrs Coopers Third Grade class: https://goo.gl/5ESgeK
  3. Decide on a template to use. Illustrate the process via a graphic. https://goo.gl/w7ocVy
  4. Use a mindmapping to plan the story An example is Mindup https://www.mindmup.com/#m:new
  5. Decide on an assessment rubric and show it.
  6. Once the story is written – each slide needs a heading – link the slides together.Show how they link: The key is linking all the slides together https://goo.gl/xY1a36

Happy writing!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #52

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week: 




Saturday, 21 May 2016

Useful Google in Education posts this week #55

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers. All the previous posts in this series can be accessed on this link http://bit.ly/1VEJp3r: (Google links)

Friday, 20 May 2016

Takeaways from the recent Thinking Schools Conference in Cape Town

Submitted by Fiona Beal
I've always been interested in learning about thinking! For example, information on how the brain works, using concept maps in the classroom. study skills, making thinking visible and more.  I know that when kids have structure for thinking they learn better. What I didn’t know, though, is that that there is a whole movement in schools aimed at encouraging thinking in the classroom.
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I stumbled on to this recently when I received an email inviting me to register for the Future Ready Roadshow in Cape Town. When I saw that James Saunders from the USA was to be the keynote speaker, that was enough for me - I lOVE his presentations.. This conference was hosted by the Thinking Schools Association of South Africa.
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Here are my takeaways

Learning about Mindfulness - 16 habits of mind
I kept hearing references to the 16 habits of mind. I love the one that says, “Responding with Wonderment and Awe - finding the world awesome, mysterious and being intruiged with phenomena and beauty. The Habits of Mind are an identified set of 16 problem solving, life related skills, necessary to effectively operate in society and promote strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity an craftsmanship  (see downloaded image) They promote high levels of cognitive control, emotional regulation and self-awareness.  At the school where the conference was held, Grove Primary in Claremont, Cape Town, the 16 habits are displayed on one of the walls. Here is an image I found at http://goo.gl/t3d117 summarising the 16 habits of mind:
HabitsofTheMindChart.png
Edutopia has a great post called ‘Integrating the 16 Habits of Mind.  http://goo.gl/vLrMl showing how to integrate these habits into the classroom, in whatever you do.
The use of graphic organisers to promote thinking
The first session involved visiting a teacher who was teaching a class in a way that encourages thinking. It was a Saturday, but the classes doing demonstrations had come to school! I opted to go to a Grade 3 story-writing class. Before writing about that as a takeaway I want to mention the use of graphic organisers to promote thinking. The Grade 3 teacher had these thinking maps displayed on her wall.  She mentioned that she frequenty brought them into her lessons, all depending on what the lesson wanted to achieve.
Interesting wall displays inside the Grade 3 classroom
I always like looking around a classroom. This one some interesting wall displays. These are three that caught my eye



The Grade 3 story writing lesson
I loved observing the story writing lesson.  The teacher did this in three steps.
The first step was on the mat where the learners used the circle map to discuss their favourite books in the library.

After that the class set about their task which was to create a collaborative story based on the words written on a card. They each selected an envelope which contained a card (all the cards were different) and they set about writing their story. The second step of the task was for them to discuss and record ideas using the most suitable thinking chart.

The third step was for them to plan their story using the best chart for their purposes. The observers went around listening, noting which thinking map they had selected and watching the progress of the task. I loved watching the engagement in the groups, the use of dictionaries and the ideas that just flowed.
All too soon it was time to go to the next sesion so we couldn’t see the last steps of putting their ideas into story form. The teacher said that in the end they would each write their own final rendering of the story.  It was a great experience being in the class.
Looking around the host school
We were taken on a tour around the passages of Grove Primary. Wherever we went we saw children’s work using thinking maps displayed on the walls...every kind of thinking map imagineable from Grade 1 - 7. It was very impressive.

James Sander’s keynote
This was an incredible keynote. Do you know that James spoke for 1.5 hours but held us spellbounds! It felt like 5 minutes. He brought so much variety into his talk - videos, podcasts, music, quizzes, discussions, etc. It was just an incredibly motivating talk. The keynote  was titled ‘Chasing unicorns - everyone has a resume of failure'. He spoke about his various failures and how he had tackled them and in many cases they have led to incredible success. 
We talked about the importance of facing our biggest fears. We were encouraged to "take risks, reimagine, put yourself out there." Using Socrative.com we shared our biggest professional goals, anonymously.

James has started many successful ventures with his creative thinking but the two I’ll mention are Breakout and Future Ready Schools.

Future Ready Schools (http://futureready.org/) He was one of the people selected to present to President Obama - he presented his Future Ready concept which was already popular. It was then endorsed by President Obama and in the USA along 26 million students are experiencing the future ready approach. Future Ready Schools helps district leaders plan and implement personalized, research-based digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential.
 

Here is a video from their website http://futureready.org/



Students using Future Ready Schools in the USA
BreakoutEDU (http://www.breakoutedu.com/)
Breakout EDU is a revolutionary new product that brings gaming into the classroom in a meaningful way. Breakout EDU creates ultra-engaging learning games for people of all ages. Games (Breakouts) teach teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve. Breakouts can be used to teach core academic subjects including math, science, history, language arts and have embedded standards that apply problem solving strategies within a real world OR collaborative context. All Breakout EDU games teach critical thinking, teamwork, complex problem solving, and can be used in all content areas. (some information from the website!)
Here is a video from the Breakout EDU site:



The speed date panel
We really enjoyed listening to the Speed dating panel. They each gave an overview of what was happening in their school and then they answered questions from the floor about how they manage ‘thinking routines’ in their classrooms.

There were many other interesting sessions that I haven't mentioned - these were just six highlights of many! It was a great day of learning for me and I have certainly become more aware of the different ways of encouraging thinking in the classroom...and the importance of taking risks!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

MIEExpert Spotlight #15: Karen Stadler talks about her recent participation in a 24-hour global Skype marathon

This is the fifteenth post in the series "MIEExpert Spotlight for South Africa". The tab with all the posts can be found at: http://bit.ly/1ZYy8Z7. Today we focus again on Karen Stadler, our South African Skype guru, who is the Senior Primary Technology Integration Specialist at Elkanah House Senior Primary in Cape Town. She is also a 2016 Microsoft MIEExpert Educator. Karen is well known globally especially for her Travelling Rhino project and her award-winning wiki. In 2015 Karen represented South Africa at the Microsoft Global Forum in Dubai. Follow her on Twitter: @ICT_Integrator

For the second year now, one of our classes has participated in the 24-hour Skype marathon hosted by Beverly Ladd and her Grade 2 students from Pine View Elementary in Wilmington, North Carolina, USA. This year it was the turn of the Grade 5 Pelicans class and as before, it was a huge success!
Beverly started planning this all months ago – I received an email from her in October last year already, and once I had identified a class to participate in the Skype marathon (Skypathon).

Preparation
We were tasked with some preparation too. Out students had to prepare answers to some very thought-provoking questions, and this is where true learning came in. Not only were we going to learn about a class in a country on a continent thousands of kilometres away, but in preparation we were learning about our own community too. The questions posed by Beverly’s class were:
  1. How do students at your school get health care, education, and access to clean water in your community or country?
  2. What are the needs or wants of students in your school or local community? How can they be solved in a month from now, a year from now, or twenty years from now? (An example would be fundraiser to help cure diseases.) 
  3. Does your community or school receive support from any groups or individuals (i.e. school supplies, volunteers, financial support, etc.)? How does this make your community or school a better place.
  4. What do students at your school do to help protect the Earth? What could students at your school to make a greater impact?
  5. How can we positively take action and make decisions that support and nurture our environment and animals?
  6. What other global issues affect your school/community/country and how can you make a difference now and in the future?
  7. Teach or show something that is unique or special about your culture or your state/country that others should know.
The event
On the day we were blessed with a crystal clear connection – even the visuals were clear. We were very thankful for our upgraded, fast and efficient fibre internet connection. We took turns to share the answers to our questions. We were interested to learn that their communities face many similar challenges as the communities here in our area, such as poverty and homelessness. We found it interesting that they have doctors and nurses at their schools so they can get medical care there, if necessary.

A highlight for us was when the US students sang their National Anthem for us. It was very moving – especially since they were about 20 hours into their 24-hour marathon!


Our students greeted the US students in all 11 official languages and then two of our girls showed them what traditional Zulu dress looks like.


I am now being pressured by our students to host our own Skype marathon, but I’m not sure if I’m up for a 24-hour stint. Twelve hours seems a good starting point. Watch this space!

A huge thanks to Beverly and her students for a very fruitful experience. They had some very tired little bodies, but it was wonderful to experience learning across the miles and around the globe! Here are some more photos taken from our side:


If you would like to read Beverley Ladd's description of this great 24-hour marathon Skype event, her post can be found on the Skype blog: Around the world in 24 hours with Skype in the Classroom http://bit.ly/1YEgMBw

Find out more about using Skype in the classroom
You’ll find a number of Skype lessons on the Microsoft Educator Community at http://bit.ly/1VizGOL. Once you are signed in on the Microsoft Educator network type 'Mystery Skype' into the search bar to find teachers wanting to set up a Mystery Skype collaboration. Mystery Skype is when two teachers set up a Skype experience between their classes. The classes have to guess each other's location.


Get involved in the Microsoft MIEE program in 2016/2017
If you are a teacher who likes to be innovative in the classroom, think about entering Microsoft's Innovative Teacher MIEExpert program in 2016/2017 when applications reopen later in the year. You can learn more about the program at this link: http://bit.ly/1H4gKcB on the Microsoft Educator Community.

Brescia House announces a free 'Redefining Learning' TeachMeet on 9th June. Please join in...

Brescia House School in Johannesburg is having another one of it's wonderful TeachMeets on Thursday 9th June at 3pm. Please visit their website at http://www.brescia.co.za/teachmeets-2016 to register. This is an opportunity for teachers, librarians, coordinators, heads & IT managers interested in innovation in teaching & learning to learn and share classroom ideas.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

MIEExpert Spotlight #14: Chipa Maimela talks about the importance of ICT in taking science content to under-resourced schools

This is the fourteenth post in the series "MIEExpert Spotlight for South Africa". The tab with all the posts can be found at: http://bit.ly/1ZYy8Z7. Today we focus on Chipa Maimela from Johannesburg who is one of our Microsoft's #MIEExperts for 2016. Chipa was a
high school Science teacher in Limpopo before he was appointed to Wits as an Educational Developer. He lectures in instructional design using ICT technology and he trains the academic staff on eLearning. He has his own blog of science resources called Physical Science Break ! which covers Physical Sciences Topics for Grade 10-11-12. You can visit his blog at this URL:
https://maimelatct.wordpress.com/. Chipa has also developed an Android App based on the South African Science CAPS. You can follow Chipa on Twitter at @maimelatct

“Despite some extreme variations, schools in the provinces of Gauteng and the Western Cape have on average a better ICT infrastructure than schools in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Northern Province. Schools in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the North West province hold an intermediate position.” 
This statement is according to the Education Policy Unit, University of the Western Cape and the International Development Research Centre 2000.


Mobile devices play an important role
ICT can assist under-resourced schools by making science content available to them online. Here are some ideas:
  • Most parents all over the country, regardless of their backgrounds, own a mobile device. This can play a vital role in enabling science learners to access content. 
  • The interest in learning using personal mobile devices (PMD’s) by learners is growling daily. Most learners in high schools belong to social media platforms. If science content is advertised on social media it can encourage learners to explore the recommended sites. 
  • Coming from an under-resourced school in Limpopo, myself, I believe that we could greatly assist educators by providing access to online scientific content. This would greatly improve teacher motivation and would probably increase the enrolment in mathematics and science in those areas. Occasionally learners from the under-resourced areas perform to a satisfactory level in this subjects, but if they had access to the right online resources this would improve steadily. 
Online Science content
There is an increase in the availability of online science content, ranging from websites and blogs to apps and add-ins etc. The advantage in this is that most science tasks that were once considered difficult to explain, can now be easily and freely accessed and understood by usingapplications such as YouTube. Other educational science content created by experienced science educators in the country can also be made available online. We should encourage online collaboration and dsicussion. Learners in under-resourced schools use Facebook, for example, as much as learners of their age in the more resourced areas, Group discussions for mathematics and science can be escalated by using Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, WhatsApp and other platforms using ICT.


Microsoft tools
Microsoft tools greatly aid the creation of content for learners. Content-creating tools such Office Mix and Sway can be used to generate interesting content for the learners, even with that one computer or laptop the school is able to provide. Teachers can connect their classrooms using Skype so that classes can learn from one another,  

ICT has changed the way science and mathematics can be taught and learned. Let's use it to raise the standards in our under-resourced schools.

Get involved in the Microsoft MIE program in 2016/2017
If you are a teacher who likes to be innovative in the classroom, think about entering Microsoft's Innovative Teacher MIEExpert program in 2016/2017 when applications reopen later in the year. You can learn more about the program at this link: http://bit.ly/1H4gKcB on the Microsoft Educator Community.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Five takeaways from a most enjoyable Cape Town Maths Day!

Maths Day.JPG
Submitted by Fiona Beal
On Saturday morning (14th May) I attended the Cape Town Maths Day at Grove Primary along with 50 other teachers. The focus was on exploring Maths digitally so we were asked to bring along a laptop or another suitable device.  The program was great. We each received a wonderful goodie bag at registration that included a useful, large Sharp calculator. Throughout the morning we were given great demonstrations and useful Maths tips to try out in our classrooms. Here are my five takeaways
The Maths Day program displayed on the screen

Matific: Incorporating Technology In The Classroom

This was presented by Lynn Ross, the Matific Country Manager. Lynn Ross opened the Matific presentation by enquiring about how teachers felt about using technology in the classroom. The majority felt very nervous about it. They felt their students knew more than they did. Mathific (https://www.matific.com/za/en-za) is a great online Maths program linked to the South African CAPS. It's also available as an iPad or Android app. There is a 30 day trial and a membership costs R120 per year per student. It caters for Grades R - 7. The terminology used for getting around the website is episodes, worksheets, playlists and lesson plans. Here is a screenshot from the Grade 5 category on the website.
This was a great presentation from Lynne Ross - very impressive. I liked this application very much. Below is a slideshow of some of my Matific screenshots.


Sharp Calculators: Calculator Skills For Primary School Maths
This session was presented by Tal Moore, Calculator Support Specialist. This was also a great session. We opened our wonderful calculator gift and played a lot of games one could do in the classroom - drill, tables etc.  It really was  a fun experience. It made me realise that a teacher can make Maths a load of fun in the classroom. Here are a couple of the tweets I made during the session. 


Living Maths: Tech For Techno Peasants
This session was presented by Steve Sherman, who calls himself a Chief Imagination Officer. This was an amazing presentation. Steve Sherman from Living Maths is a invigorating, entertaining presenter who really held everyone's attention throughout. He spoke on gamifying Maths and showed us what fun this process is. This is the first time that I have looked at The Living Maths website,  and I discovered that it has so many generously-shared free resources to use under the Resources section. Today's resources were shared via a Symbaloo at https://goo.gl/7kmcJr (This can also found on the Resources section).


We played Jeopardy, Who wants to be a millonnaire,  Kahoot and Plickers, all adapted for Maths. Steve Sherman is also a great photographer and he took loads of photos which he has uploaded to an album on the Living Maths Facebook page https://goo.gl/vKv1qD.
Playing Plickers
Playing Plickers
We wrote product reviews on School Advisor

SchoolAdvisor allows schools to search for, get quotes and rate education suppliers directly. They believe this platform will help you to find the best supplier/product/service to meet your particular need and ensure that you receive the best service - as suppliers are kept accountable by constant reviews and feedback from school decision makers. They have a great competition going at the moment for the prize of an iPad Pro. There is a post about this on the SchoolNet website http://goo.gl/2OhCpIDuncan Smith from School Advisor took us through writing a review on the SchoolAdvisor site https://www.schooladvisor.co.za/.                                
The final presentation was from a Grove Primary teacher, Brian, who showed us how he uses Mathific in his classroom.            
Brian from The Grove
Then...a lucky draw for a R500 voucher from School Advisor and the day was over! 9am - 11.30am! It was short and sweet but a day well spent.