Friday, August 07, 2015

Willy the Wizard Conversations

In Grade 1, my students have been reading a number of Anthony Browne's books, including the great Willy the Wizard. A teacher asked for us to find a way to use Willy the Wizard to practice writing conversations. I took a picture of the worksheet that she had found and then inserted it into MS Word. I set the text to be on top of the image and set two columns to cover both speech bubbles. This way my young Grade 1s could work on their Word familiarity as well as get in some literacy practice.

Here are some snapshots of the finished products. It's not often we get to see IT work printed out and so proudly on display in the classroom - it's a delight to see.

ESET Security Day 2015

Yesterday, some colleagues and I attended the first every ESET Security Day in Cape Town.

I give them points for almost getting the surname correct.
It was my first ever work conference and a great opportunity to start to develop the tech side of my job with a bang. The most interesting speaker, for me, was Daan Potgieter's explanation of  the 1 to 1 tablet program his school have rolled out. There was all sorts of discussion about the pitfalls concerning such an initiative. It was great to experience that because my school is beginning an iPad rollout next year. It will start from Grade 4 upwards, not directly effecting us down in Junior Primary, but we are going to be expected to 'upskill' our students in order to start with the iPads when they get to Senior Primary. In a nutshell, HoĆ«rskool Waterkloof chose Android tablets because they were more reasonably priced and they could have third-party security solutions (like ESET, who sponsored the event). I was most impressed to hear that their school manages more than double the devices that we do with the same amount of tech support staff! Kudos to those hard-working techs.

One point that he highlighted was the importance of standardisation of the devices. Mr Potgieter gave the explanation of even the size of tablet could hugely impact on your teaching - students with different sized screens would display a reader or textbook differently, so they would all have different page numbers. Assigning reading would therefore have to be carefully done, such as selecting a chapter or topic rather than the common method of page numbers.

Another point which has been niggling me: iOS doesn't allow third-party security/control applications. This doesn't surprise me, from my limited experience with an iPad this suits the impression I had so far. Apple has it's own products which cover things like antivirus, remote management, multi-device management and so on. The problem is that not all of these vital features have rolled out here in South Africa yet. This makes even managing a mobile iPad lab a chore because there is no other option available but to do updates and adjustments manually, on each individual iPad. I will be chatting to our Apple Distinguished Educator at school, he is very passionate about our iPad rollout and is well aware of the blocks that are in place - hopefully these are temporary blocks.

On a side note, the food at the conference was excellent and the venue was great. All of the organisers were friendly and the atmosphere was a positive one. I'm looking forward to my next conference!