Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Free Microsoft webinar 'Getting Started with Office 365' by Megan Rademeyer and Michael Mullany on Weds 7th December 3:30pm

We are pleased to announce that Megan Rademeyer and Michael Mullany will be presenting a free Microsoft Virtual Academy webinar from the Microsoft Office in Johannesburg on 'Getting started with Office 365'. The rise of mobile technology and cloud computing has transformed the way we work, making collaboration not only easier, but also essential for the success of every organization. Office 365 meets this challenge head-on and allows seamless collaboration in real time.

Topic: Getting Started with Office 365
Date: Wednesday 7 December 2016
Time: 3pm
Presenters: Megan Rademeyer and Michael Mullany
Description: Are you wondering if Office 365 is right for your school? In this virtual academy we will explain how to get Office 365 for your school; we’ll discuss what tools are included; and we will give you pointers on selecting the right plan for your institution.

Note that if you can't attend the webinar, the recording will be available on the same link

Monday, 5 December 2016

Get your Foundation Phase learners participating in the #HourofCode during December - they will love it!

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Have you seen these tweets such as ‘Participate in the #HourofCode’ or  ‘Visit’ floating around every day on Twitter?

I decided to pay a visit to see what it was all about – and what a pleasant surprise I got! In fact, I was AMAZED to see what an incredible website this is. It caters for every age group of learners from Pre-Reader to Grade 9+. The website urged us to ‘Try a one-hour tutorial designed for all ages in over 45 languages. Join millions of students and teachers in over 180 countries starting with an #HourofCode.“ I was delighted about the opportunity of getting my younger learners trying out one of the two Minecraft tutorials. So began an “HourofCode” experience with a Grade 2 and a Grade 3 class...

The best way to start something new like this is to choose a tutorial for your learners, such as the Minecraft tutorial, and go through it yourself. Incidentally, there are many other options, in addition to Minecraft, on this website. Here are just a few!
The next thing is to make sure the earphones are working at every computer and that the Internet is available. You can also get learners to partner up if necessary and help each other. (If you don't have Internet, there is an offline version of Minecraft that can be downloaded!)

Introduce the #HourofCode
1. Talk a little bit about what coding is, why it matters, and why it’s such a fun activity! You could start off by showing a very short coding video to put the Hour of Code into context. One is available here

2. Ask what the learners think of when they hear the word ‘Code’?
  • How apps and websites are made
  • The language people use to give technology instructions. The language is code!
  • It’s about solving problems
  • Lets you create things from scratch, so it helps to be as imaginative and creative as possible
  • It involves working with friends and sharing solutions
  • It can be about the things you like to do. People that like TV shows can build their own blog that talks about the latest episodes; someone that likes video games can build their own; someone that likes sports can build an app that shows stats of their favourite team, If someone likes cartoons and superheroes, they can make a website about their favourite characters 
Keep this introduction short and sweet so that the learners can get started.

Get started with the tutorials
You could write the URL on the board if you wish. I told my classes to go to the URL and then look for Minecraft. There are two options once you get to Minecraft. Since my classes had never played Minecraft before, I asked them to start with the option on the right ‘Minecraft Adventurer'.

I encouraged them to watch the opening video about ‘Jens’ the Lead Development at Minecraft before starting on the tutorial.

After that they chose their character and they got started:

ncidentally, as your class works through the activity and if they come across difficulties, tell them to “Ask 3 then me.” They ask 3 classmates, and if they don’t have the answer, then ask the teacher. Encourage students and offer positive reinforcement such as: “You’re doing great, so keep trying.”

My experience with Grade 2 and Grade 3

Well, I was totally impressed with these two classes. They picked up the way Minecraft works very quickly, and I couldn’t get them to stop at the end of each lesson! They loved the 13 steps of achievement and encouragement leading to the final certificate.
This was a great experience both for me and my learners! The great thing about  is that it is open all the year round. So, if you don't get a chance to participate in the Hour of Code in December, you can get your learners to participate at any other time as well. The important thing is just to do it!

Useful Microsoft in education posts this week #80

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 (The link to the back-dated posts is 

Friday, 2 December 2016

Useful Google in Education posts this week #83

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers link to previous posts can be found here

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

MIEExpert Spotlight #19: Nosithembele Gcobo 'Integrating ICT in teaching and learning in rural contexts'

This is the 19th post in the series "MIEExpert Spotlight" for South Africa. The tab with all the posts can be found at Today we focus on Nosithembele Gcobo from Sentile Junior Secondary School in Queenstown.  Nosithembele teaches Grade 6 at a rural school where using technology is a challenge. In this post she shares some of the challenges with ICT in rural settings and shows how she has worked at overcoming these challenges.

Integrating ICT in curriculum practice is not as easy as it could be in the rural context such as in Cofimvaba where I teach. The challenges we face as teachers make it impossible, sometimes, to fully realise the benefits offered by ICT. For example the ICT infrastructure (WIFI, content server; mobile devices etc) can be the major barriers in the contribution to the improvement in the quality of teaching and learning in rural schools. I have found, though, that one way of overcoming challenges like this is to focus on the available tool that can be used to incorporate the technological part of the curriculum.

The Grade 6 learners have the responsibility of charging their mobile devices, checking the condition of their mobile devices and reporting whatever problems they have. They do this every time they use their mobile device. 

Here are four lessons I have done (or am planning to do) in Grade 6 with my learners where I focus on a particular program.

1. A biography project
I decided to do a biography project in Grade 6. This was a third term project where my Grade 6 learners had to write a biography about someone who has made a difference in our country, South Africa. They did their research using text books, the Internet and also by questioning their families, and their teachers. 

After gathering enough information for the project, they used Microsoft Word to write the project on their mobile devices. As the beginners, they were able to showcase their typing skills, inserting pictures and taking photos thus creating a standard document.

2. Mindmapping nouns
As a Grade 6 teacher, I always make sure that in every subject my learners use the mobile devices. I use a mindmapping program called Simple Mind where the learners can show their creative skills. Mindmapping helps my learners to master the content in a better way. This screenshot is an example of a First Additional Language – Lesson on Nouns.

3. Microsoft Sway
I love using Sway. It is easy to use and you can record events that happen. Here is a Sway I made which records a few events.

4. Videos
I have learned how to make videos and upload them to YouTube. I want to do this with my learners eventually. This is a video I made when i entered the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert program.

I am hoping that as time goes the challenges get less and less. ICT integration adds value and provides clear guidelines on how to approach ordinary lessons and change them into experiential learning activities. Pedagogically, ICT is creating tech-savvy learners by changing the way they learn as it provides opportunities for them to operate in the current information age.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Useful Microsoft in education posts this week #79

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  . (The link to the back-dated posts is 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Are you up to the challenge of the Hour of Code™? It is as simple as this...

Are you up to the challenge of the Hour of Code™?
The Hour of Code is a global campaign to demystify code and encourage everybody to learn the basics of computer science. Microsoft is proud to be a founding partner of and together they have developed some great Minecraft themed tutorials to introduce basic coding concepts. Globally the Hour of Code campaign is held during Computer Science Education Week (5 – 11 December 2016). During the campaign, individuals and groups around the world participate in a variety of one-hour introductory learn-to-code experiences and there is lots of buzz on social media using #HourOfCode. Of course – you can work through the Hour of Code materials any time you like – and are not limited to just this one week when coding is celebrated.

If you are looking for a fun activity to try with your learners during the last few days of school consider taking on the Hour of Code challenge as a class. Learners can work through one of the two Minecraft themed Hour of Code tutorials here and the teacher can download the facilitator guide and PowerPoint decks here If you are a parent looking for free, fun activities for your own children to do in the holidays – why not challenge them to completing an Hour of Code? If you are looking to learn a new skill over the holidays – give the online tutorials a go yourself and share your creation using #Hour of Code.

Here are some frequently asked questions about Hour of Code™

Can anyone run an Hour of Code™ workshop?
Absolutely! The online tutorials and ready-made PowerPoints make it easy for anyone to run a workshop. If you are keen to run a session download the facilitator materials here and work through the online tutorials yourself here and you will be ready to roll.

I can’t attend or run an Hour of Code™ Workshop – can I still participate?
Yes! Give the online tutorials a try and share your finished product on social media using #HourOfCode so that others can see you completed the challenge. You can even print out your own certificate at the end.

What age groups is the Hour of Code™ aimed at?
The Hour of Code™ materials are aimed at learners between the ages of 8 and 18 - with one set of materials for primary school learners and one set for high school learners. We would suggest that workshops be offered to learners between grade 3 and grade 11. Please note that the workshop materials are in English and do require some reading. These materials are meant to be a basic introduction to coding - they may seem simplistic for Computer Studies learners although people with some prior coding experience will be able to show off their skills in the final challenges.

What technology is required to complete the Hour of Code™ tutorials?
Each participant will need access to a computer, laptop or tablet with a modern browser that is connected to the Internet. Headphones for each learner would be a great help – as well as a data projector and speakers for the facilitator. If your Internet connection isn’t great you can download the materials in advance or you could download the videos and show these to the whole class instead of each child watching them individually.

How can we share what our school is doing as part of the Hour of Code™?
Please post your photos and stories on social media to tell us and the world what you are doing to get learners coding. Use the hashtag #HourOfCode and tag @MicrosoftSA.

Will learners get certificates for participating in the Hour of Code™ ?

Once someone has completed the Hour of Code™ they can download a certificate. There is also an option for the facilitator to print up to 30 certificates in a batch if this is an activity which you would like to try with a class of learners. SchoolNet SA is not able to print certificates for people completing the Hour of Code.

Do learners need access to Minecraft to participate?
The materials that will be used in these workshops use characters and concepts from the Minecraft video game, but not the game itself. Learners DO NOT need to have access to Minecraft to participate in these workshops nor do they need any knowledge of Minecraft. Of course, learners who already know and love Minecraft will be excited to see familiar characters and concepts from the game.

Do learners need to have computer skills to participate in the Hour of Code™?
The whole idea of the Hour of Code™ is to get students excited about coding. No prior coding skills or experience are required. That being said - the workshop will work better with learners who have some computer literacy or those with an interest in computers.

Rise to the challenge of completing an Hour of Code – and consider using the last week of the school year an an opportunity to expose your learners to coding. We look forward to seeing what you’ve done on social media #HourOfCode

Useful Google in Education posts this week #82

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers.   (The link to previous posts can be found here

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Webinar recording 'ABC learning - create spelling videos using PowerPoint' with Mochudu Machaba

On Thursday afternoon 24 November at 3:30pm we held a webinar entitled, ‘'ABC learning - Create spelling videos using PowerPoint'.  Our speaker was Mochudu Machaba, a South African educator presently teaching Grade 5 and 6 Social Sciences, English and Lifeskills at Ngwanamago Primary Limpopo Province. 

The webinar description
In this webinar, Mochudu showed us how learners can create vocabulary content using PowerPoint.  She demonstrated how learners can design PowerPoint videos to revise their language structure and help them improve their vocabularyVisuals improve their memory to recall what they have learned and also help them understand words better by relating the vocabulary to pictures. In this lesson learners come up with words and pictures to create their own spelling words.  Learners record themselves saying words and later come up with sentences. In this way learners’ confidence is enhanced because they create their own content. They can use either Sepedi or English. They then rehearse what they have created and do creative writing as well.

The downloadable webinar presentation
Here is the downloadable presentation from the webinar available online in SlideShare:

The webinar recording can be listened to on the following link on YouTube: To  or it can be viewed in the embedded video below.