Fresh Start

I took two large boxes of work with me on holiday. Well, actually I was acting as unpaid driver for my eldest who was taking photos at Fairford Airshow!!! And, I returned with then, for the most part, unopened! And I’m so glad I did.

I managed to spend the holiday, when not wall building and path making and shed removing and soil laying and plum slate transferring…, having a break from the guilt that is contempory education. I could have done with another week though!

I appeared to have chilled out about ICT. Chilled out, not cooled off. We seem to get driven by new tech, instead of leading where we need it to take us. So, I’m endeavouring to take it all one step at a time. You can tell I’m only two weeks in. Though, cynicism apart, these have been two good weeks, not the usual two panicky, get-everything-organised weeks. Setting clear, but very simple goals for a simple CFE topic, has made the learning, and the planning, focused and effective.

And of course I will be using ICT. When I want to and when it enhances. Not because I ought to.

Ooooooh! iWeb!

I know there is criticism of Apple’s iWeb. I know that it has limited template and no easy template editor. I know that it integrates best with .Mac, and that is a subscription service. But now I know some other things too!

I know that many have found Dreamweaver too complicated for schools, especially primary schools, to build and maintain. I know it can make the best sites, and I would like to use it. But I know that the needs of a school web site are fairly clear.

A School website must be easy to maintain. It must be accessible to update, without significant training, by children, teaching and support staff. It must be possible to add pages without worry. Oh, and it must be stable.

I felt guilty at not using Dreamweaver, and having decided against going back to NetObjects Fusion, I thought it was time to give Apple’s iWeb a fair try. It was at SETT 06 that I discussed how the programme worked with the Apple stand, and realised that it could upload to any server. I have to admit I was impressed by iWeb. If you could use a word processor you could make a web site. So I did!

Actually I made two sites over the Easter break. Two days saw a main school site and another secure site for staff, holding planners, forward planning files, drafts and a calendar. Now is the hard part- getting all the content together, the correct photos and agreed text!

So would I recommend iWeb? Well, I haven’t tried uploading anywhere yet! But if that works, then I would have no hesitation. There are limitations, but I know this can be easily added to, updated and changed. The blog and photo album is a great feature, ideal for classes. So, when it’s live I’ll let you know. In fact, when it’s live, you can let me know!

Tudor Socks

I’m not sure how to describe this!

We have worked our way through the wives of Henry VIII. Much as he did! Time for some consolidation. (I nearly said ‘recapitulation’, but that would have been tasteless!)

The children, in pairs, were challenged to tell the story of their ‘wife’, through a quick-make sock puppet. Scraps of material were provided for costume effect. Bits of white labels created eyes and mouths. Each performance was filmed with the video, by the children themselves, of course.

The result, a short QuickTime film with the wives telling the story. Great fun. And it only took an hour. Honest.

The highlight? A very creative beheading complete with headless body- filmed before I was able to step in and be boring! Again!

(The Finished file is 18 MB so I can’t upload it here- but will send if anyone is interested)

World Book Day- Day 2

Check out the photos!

What they can’t convey is the buzz of discussion and excitement as the collaborative story was received and finished. Despite a brief loss of internet connection on Colonsay, all went well. Congratulations to the three other schools for what they did.

Over the next few days, we hope to get some art work photos which we will insert to a booklet layout of the story. Were asking our School Board, on Monday night, to choose which of our story titles is best, and which picture is to be on the font cover.

And then we publish!  I’ll try to upload a copy here for anyone to see. And no, I don’t get royalties. Though it’s an idea…!

World Book Day- take two.

I thought the January-March term was the quieter one. You know, the time when you catch up on all your work, get stuck into that big topic, clear your assessment. Maybe even tidy your desk. Okay, the last one’s unlikely. But still..?! Is it World Book Day already?

This year we’re going to stick to an idea that worked. In fact, it worked really well. We had arranged with three other primaries to do some collaborative story writing. We wrote a storybook in one day, by email!

So, the planning is almost in place. We will start the story in our school with the P1-4s, who will write it on the Wednesday afternoon ready for the big day. First thing on Thursday it will be emailed to St Kieran’s in Cambeltown, Kilchattan on Colonsay and Tayvallich in Mid Argyll. They will all add a chapter, leaving it on a cliffhanger, and it should return to my P5-7 by 2 o’clock. We will then, some how, bring it all to a conclusion, trying to draw all the threads of the plot and characters together. The completed story will then be emailed to everybody in time for it to be read before the end of the school day. Pictures will get emailed, faxed and sent in the next few days, and after some work layout work, proof reading and assembling, each school will get it’s finished, colour hard-copy of the whole story.

After last year’s experience, we remembered to check that we have the write email addresses! We waited half an hour for a story that was hiding in the wrong box. We lost two years off our life during that one! But, the pupils became such focused, excited writers and readers, and grappled with continuity, plot development and descriptive writing for a very real audience.

My only regret is that it can’t be bigger. There are a few schools who wanted to be involved in our abortive attempts to do similar on Poetry day. I would like to have worked with Cardross, in fact I’d love to have seen this criss-cross our Authority. . So why not?

Mind you, at the end of the day, my long-suffering Head Teacher needs a large drink. Tea of course. Oh, and if you’d like to see a copy of their hard work- let me know.

My Comic Life!

Apart from having problems printing out our comic, this has been a great experience.

The P1-3 children spent their period with me last week proof reading the comic for a few ‘added’ errors, and then after storytelling an extension to the book, where the main character is visited by the witch who needs her help, we convened an editorial conference. Actually we held it under the tables (they, like me, like the idea of being bad, in a nice way!).

It probably wasn’t a good time for the Head Teacher and our Probationer teacher to wander through.

However, having discussed why the witch might need her help, and where she might end up going, we are going to use some blank ComicLife frames to write our own comic stories.
I’ll keep you posted!   If I’m still working.



Many thanks to Andrew and James for the advice, and for pointing me in the direction of the Akismet widget in Edublogs. It’s already begun to block some of the spam that was turning the experience sour.
No excuse for trying to get the children writing now!
And in the spirit of ICT- if anybody who wrote to sympathise with the problem of edublogs spam wants to know about Akismet- I’m happy to pass on what was passed on to me!  It’s how it all works, isn’t it!

Oh, and you can get you’re chocolate thank you bar from , but you have to pay for it!

Without thinking!

I’ve just realised that I’ve been ‘doing ICT’ without realising it!
Getting the pupils to use the internet for research is now standard practice. Blogging remains easier to talk about than action! And the issue of spam in Edublogs is getting to critical level. Beyond that?

My forays into the P1-4 class has focused on them creating a Comic version of “The Wise Doll”. Oohs and Ahhs all round from the children. Comic Life has so much potential across every curricular and planning areas. We had taken the Russian tale, read it together, reenacted it through Drama, looked at Freeze Frames then moved onto using the digital camera to take key snaps of the plot, with pupils taking the roles. Then we placed the pictures into Comic Life frames, discussing how we could summarise the action with just a caption.

Now, it looks as if we’re going to attempt a mini enterprise by selling their comic version to friends and family. So order here for your copy!

Spam, spam, spam, spam…

For some reason, my class’s blogs on edublogs are being spammed to frustration!
I don’t want the holidays, the free Nigerian money or the car leases. The friends and the drugs are beginning to look interesting though!

The damage being is being done to my fragile ego and to my willingness to continue to blog! It’s so depressing to read that someone has found your site and thinks you are doing a great job, posting a fab blog, and have the best blog they’ve seen yet, only to realise, when you look at the ‘whois’ that, it’s a robot spam from some irrelevant part of the spamiverse.

Unfortunately, I’m fed up having to empty my limited A&B mailbox every morning, login to edublogs and bulk moderate the comments.

So, I’m in need of advice. Advice that works please. Is this an experience of others? Or am I special? On second thoughts, don’t answer the last point- I don’t do rejection well!!!

Ah! That’s better!

I couldn’t just leave them all dispirited!

They had been so intrigued by the shape of the Apodo, though I doubt “appreciating the Apodo design” is a very valid Learning Outcome!  So back to the skipping ropes!

This time – cut the number of ropes, reduce the knot to ‘barely tangled’ and … success. Whoops! Successful Learners I meant to say. (ahem)

Not bad. They enjoyed the activity and the one who yesterday said, “I’m bored. I hate this,” declared, “I love Apodo!”.

Kids! Don’t you love them.