Waiting on the World to Change - Overcoming Negativity

After hitting up the CT EdTechTeam Summit and meeting all of the fantastic educators out there, I have begun to analyse my own practice a bit more. My first reaction when faced with all the cool stories about what others were doing in their schools was a bit negative, to be honest. I was thinking things like:
There's no space in my timetable for that activityMy teachers won't be supportive of that planI don't know enough about that exciting topic to teach itI've tried to change that but nobody will help meI don't have the resources to do thatI'm scared to try that in case I fail It was all so negative! I didn't want to let myself fall into a negative spiral, especially after being exposed to new ideas and energy at the Summit. Negative thinking can really drag you down. When I started school last week, I let myself take a good long look at how my lessons were going. Some lessons, mostly the ones where I was brave enough to try something new, were great. Othe…

Sharing our Stories: Finding your People

I'm going to steal my opening of this blog from the amazing Keynote speech I was lucky enough to attend on Wednesday:

Once upon a time there was a little girl called Monique.

This opening is important, because my theme today is about sharing our stories. It gets a little personal in this post today, ladies and gents.

The theme of storytelling resonated through Lindsay Wesner's Keynote at the EdTechTeam Cape Town summit. She told us to be brave, even if we didn't feel like were brave. She shared her own story and the stories told by her students. She encouraged us to share our teaching journeys on social media and to prove to other educators that great, revolutionary education could be possible here in South Africa.

After the summit was over, I was at a braai (barbeque for non SAians) with some other teachers who had also attended. My friend, Barbara, and I were wrapping our heads around the idea of sharing our stories - we wanted to find a platform for local teachers to do …

EdTechTeam Cape Town Summit: iPad Masterclass

What a whirlwind of a day! I am just back from a brilliant masterclass lead by Lindsay Wesner, focusing on an excellent model of student-centered learning. My brain feels exhausted from all of the learning that I did today but I wanted to write up a quick post so that I can collect all of the great ideas I had, heard and shared.

I Wonder Why? The first area of focus was creating an inquiry hook, a really great question to engage students and get them to wonder why. I've heard of similar frameworks with regards to Genius Hour but I appreciated the added structure that Lindsay added. It is very difficult to come up with a good question! As I work in Junior Primary, I came up with: What makes our world so special? I planned to narrow down the scope of the answers using additional questions in order to structure the inquiry for my younger students, as my aim was to help them learn about the world, continents in particular.
Scaffolded Research Once we had our question, we had to create…

How to Set Up a Slide Template for your Students (Google Classroom and Google Slides)

For the last three weeks I have been experimenting with using Google Classroom in the Junior Primary grades. I started with Grade 3, my 'oldest' bunch of students. They took to the whole experiment like ducks to water.

The first thing I did was log each child into their browser, which I detailed in my previous post -How to log into the Chrome Browser (and Why). This meant that children didn't have to log into any Google services, their browser remembered who they were. I also set the Google Classroom website to be a bookmark on each student's bookmark bar. All of this has turned out to be a huge timesaver, we now just double-click on our Chrome shortcut then click on our Classroom bookmark to get to the work that we are doing.
How to Set Up a Slide Template for your Students: I started the Grade 3s off with a Google Slides assignment which I had already ready for them. I chose to start them off with a pre-built slide deck. This is because last year we worked on a local…

How to Log into the Google Chrome Browser (and Why)

After passing the Google Certified Educator level 2 exam at the end of last year, I have been getting more comfortable with the idea of starting to use GAFE (Google Apps for Education) with younger students. The Twitter chat-tag #GAFE4littles has been invaluable in giving advice and ideas in this project, many thanks to everyone there. I highly suggest you check it out if you are also trying to get Google Apps into the hands of youngsters.

The situation:

I manage a computer lab of 26 Windows desktop pcs. Last week, I manually logged each Gr 3 child into their Chrome browser. I was able to do this because each student already has a unique desktop login so their browsers will remain separate. Logging into Chrome is a great step because my default it logs you into any Google website you visit, like Google Classroom or Google Drive. With younger children this is a great timesaver and will prevent you going grey trying to get them to learn yet another login!

How to log a GAFE student into th…

Mrs Robot: Intro to Programming using Sandwiches

Term 4! The windy and wild term here at Bridge House School. A few weeks ago, my Grade 1 classes had a very special visitor: the one and only Mrs Robot!

I was inspired to try this crazy idea by a discussion on the CS Unplugged website about introducing programming concepts to young students. It lead me to this great video by Phillip Bagge showing his portrayal of a sandwich-making robot. I loved his use of a 'robotic' voice and totally hammed it up when I did my version.

Why did I pretend to be a robot?
We had a discussion at the start of the lesson about robots and what they are. They are machines that are programmed by people to do jobs for them. They have computer brains and they need very clear instructions so that they can do their job. My Grade 1s assured me that they all knew how to make a sandwich, so I asked them to go and write down their steps for making a sandwich. These steps, I explained, would be called an algorithm - a special list of instructions that a comput…

Learning with Minetest Part 3: Impact on the Students

This blog post is part of a series of posts exploring the concept of using the Minetest game as a learning platform in a primary school. Click below to access the other posts:

Learning with Minetest Part 1: Rolling out Minetest in Pre-Primary
Learning with Minetest Part 2: Activities and Aims
Learning with Minetest Part 3: Impact on the Students

Our Minetest experiment has ended for the moment. During the last month my Pre-Primary and Junior Primary students have been exploring the game Minetest in their IT time. This post will discuss the impact that Minetest had on the students.

Spatial awareness:
Students have had to learn how to use both the keyboard and mouse independently. Minetest has been an enormous motivator for children to become comfortable with manipulating the controls with both hands working independently of each other. I have been surprised by how quickly the reluctant children became able to move around the game world. Every child that played was able to complete the bas…