Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A day once only imagined has arrived - a virtual International TeachMeet!

Submitted by Fiona Beal
If you had told me several years back that the time would come when teachers around the world could share ideas in a group verbally, visually and virtually right from the comfort of their own homes, I would probably have laughed (to myself). But the day HAS come! I experienced it myself on Saturday 17th December. Bart Verswijvel from Belgium, one of the organisers of this International TeachMeet said, prior to the occasion, “On Saturday I will have more than 25 visitors coming to my house (virtually). The visitors come from 15 different countries and they are from the 5 continents of the world. They are all teachers and they have a great story to tell. Doesn’t this sound amazing?” As it turned out there were actually 60 attendees, including 22 presenters from 15 countries and 5 continents.

Previous posts about TeachMeets

Face to face TeachMeets are already happening in South Africa and I have written about them before on this blog, on several occasions, in the following order:

I also created a TeachMeet – South Africa wiki ( earlier this year for anyone in South Africa to use if they organise a TeachMeet. This is a way of possibly keeping a record of our Teachmeets in South Africa, 

Organisers and Presenters of the virtual International TeachMeet

However, this is the first virtual International Teachmeet that I know of. It was organised by two of my Partners in Learning Institute (Seattle, July) colleagues,
namely Arjana (@abfromz) from Croatia and Bart (@BartVerswijvel) from Belgium. Microsoft's Partners in Learning, Croatia,  have kindly sponsored the use of Microsoft Live meeting to host this and further International TeachMeets. 

The organisers and presenters at the first virtual TeachMeet

You can find the presenters' details here

What happens at a TeachMeet?

At a TeachMeet the participants give a micro presentation lasting, in this case, 3 minutes of something they have done that combines the curriculum with technology and that really works well.

A summary of the presentations

Here is a summary of the presentations, compiled by Sonja from Croatia (@sonjalr):

A video about the occasion

Bart from Belgium made a video from the afternoon’s proceedings

Blogposts about the this international event

Some of the presenters and attendees have already written blogposts about the event
Vicky Loras (Switzerland): Professional Development At Its Very Best
Jeannette James (Australia): Live Meeting #teachmeet webinar
Arjana Blazic (Croatia): Good vibrations
Bart Verswijvel (Belgium): Wonderful world
Elinda Gjondeda (Greece): Reflections from #TeachMeet International
Chiew Pang (Spain): Two for the price of none

In fact to get the summary and feel of the event you can look at the TeachMeet wiki that Arjana from Croatia created especially for the event.

Some of the Slideshare presentations 

Some of the presenters have made Slideshare or Authorstream presentations about their offering. There will be more I am sure.

1) Chew Piang from Spain
Wordle: Your imagination's the limit!
View more presentations from Chiew Pang

2) John Putt, a Head teacher from Wales
John putttm int171211

View more presentations from wjputt

3) Fiona Beal from South Africa
A blog can be a fantastic teaching tool
View more presentations from fionabeal

I'm sure there will be more, soon. Ah, here are three more:

4) Anna Loseva from Russia
ELT workplaces with posterous blogs
5) Yitzha Sarwona from Jakarta in Indonesia
Applying Dogma teaching in a Montessori kindergarten classroom
6) Bookmark your dreams with Vladimira Michalkova from Slovakia
Further International TeachMeets?

Next one? Of course there will be more, possibly in  February 2012. The next event to follow in this line is the first International Student TeachMeet that Bart is setting up for 7 February 2012. Details can be found here:

To conclude, I personally think that the benefits of using technology in education will be widely spread through the the TeachMeet concept. I love Teachmeets!

Monday, 12 December 2011

A lovely South African site with free downloadable worksheets in several subjects

Isn’t it great when right here, in South Africa, you come across a site with lovely, free, downloadable worksheets in : Mathematics, English, ScienceEnvironment, Health, Nutrition, Hygiene, Arts, Crafts and Colouring.

This site is called the e-learning classroom  and it can be located at:


When you explore the site you find so many excellent worksheets and other classroom aids.


Take a look. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Adding videos to blog or wiki posts

I have recently been exploring several different ways of putting video on to a blog or wiki; and when a friend asked me for some ideas on how to do this I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to summarise what I have tried up to now and what I plan to try in the future and use it as a blog post! So here goes...


This is something I learned through someone else – isn’t it amazing how we learn from one another all the time! In Blogger and Edublogs you can easily add video if it is not too big in size. The problem comes in how your video camera saves files. The files (I think) need to be .wmv to be uploaded. This is where YouTube Downloader comes in handy.

Use YouTube Downloader to convert files

This is a free downloadable programme that can convert movies to different formats. You need to select the second option 'Convert video (previously downloaded) from file'. It works with any video. However Edublogs and Blogger show these videos differently as I will show you now.

Showing videos in Edublogs and Blogger

a) Edublogs: Last year the Grade 3s used Photostory 3 (with narration) to make videos about Fish Hoek. This is how Edublogs shows the video: Fish Hoek (Edublogs says about their video approach, "It doesn’t embed your file in an actual video or audio player in your post; it only inserts a link to the file. When readers click on the link it opens another page where the audio file is played or it downloads the video onto their computer").

b) Blogger: This is how Blogger shows the same video. It actually embeds the video. I

I have to say that I really prefer the Blogger approach with ordinary video clips. Unfortunately Wikispaces only allows embedded video which is what I will discuss next.

Short embedded videos using One True Media

The video application I have tried to date is One True Media. A teacher from the USA visited us and the class spontaneously broke into song so I captured it on my camera and put it into OneTrueMedia

We linked with Miss Ale in Argentina for a collaborative-writing project and she made this video using OneTrueMedia:

Another teacher I linked with in Canada, Mr Millward, did his class graduation using OneTrueMedia. As you can see the programme is very creative. 


Short videos using Animoto

With Animoto you are only allowed short videos of 30 seconds free but there is an Animoto Educators account which I have applied for and received. This entitles me to myself and 50 of my students having the Plus account in which we can upload full length videos (maximum 200MB). Last year one of the Grade 5 classes participated in the ‘Monster project’ and many of the teachers around the world used Animoto to show everyone where they were at. Here is a sample from a Grade 2 class (Miss Hariju) in the USA:



I must say that I love School Tube and it is my first choice since it is all about school! I learned about it from another of my PLN friends from America, Bob Greenwood, with whom I was involved in a project. He teaches Grade 2 and he has his own channel on School Tube. He makes so many amazing videos. Take a look:


So that is what I did. I applied  to become a moderator on School Tube and I was given a school channel. Any movie uploaded there gives me an embedding code and I put the code in my blogs and in my wikis. Our 2011 Adobe Youth Voices project is uploaded there.


I also like using YouTube and I have a channel there as well for all my school videos. Once you have posted a video it gives you a code which you can embed into any blog or wiki. This makes it very easy. Often with school videos I make them private so that they can only be seen by whoever has the YouTube address link. When we were on a video swap project with Denmark (Grade 6) we used YouTube’s private code for this. I sometimes think that parents will be happier with the use of School Tube because it is mainly for teachers. I believe there is now a YouTube ‘Teacher Tube’ channel which is an even better option.


I would like to try out video sites recommended in blogposts:
a) Vimeo

b) Explore more with Animoto

c) Other recommended sites

My BIG question at the moment is - how do you compress large .avi files of say 1.8GB in order to upload them easily? (Later...okay, I have just found the answer to this. You put the whole .avi file into Windows Movie Maker and it reduces it amazingly with little loss of quality. It really works...yay!)


I love Richard Byrne’s site called Free Technology for Teachers. One of the books he so freely shared is about making videos on the web. He allows others to embed his documents so I am going to embed the video book here.

Get involved in blogging projects

Even if you have only one computer in your classroom, you can make a start in integrating technology into your curriculum by getting your class involved in a blogging programme. Why not consider it?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Looking for a project to get involved in in 2012?

IEARN has some interesting new projects for you to consider. If I can urge you to do one thing in 2012 it is to get your class involved in global projects. It is really worth it and will be really exciting for your learners. 

1. Learning Circles


2. Special Places project


3. Future Citizens project


4. Special Moon Observation


4. Resources, Contests, websites and announcements


5. Global conference recordings available


Thursday, 1 December 2011

12 places to find global projects for your class to get involved in

Our world is definitely becoming a  global village! It is so much easier to connect with classes around the world in our technological age than ever before. It is really worth finding a global project to involve your class in. If you are looking for ways to connect with others here are a few ideas of places to start.

1. Global collaborative projects Your Own Collaborative Project


2. Kidlink


3. iEARN


4. Internet projects registry


5. Projects by Jen


6. Global Schoolnet


7. Global virtual classroom


8. The global education collaborative


9. Going global



10. Taking it Global


11. The Educators PLN


12. Global Learning


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

How to add a YouTube video to your blog

I was very pleased to find out today, through one of my social networking links, that Blogger has its own YouTube Help Channel. It's called BloggerHelp and you can find it here. When I took a look I saw they had one on one of this week's topics - How to add a YouTube video to your blog. So I thought I would add it here. For those of you that are still unsure on how to do this here are some screen shots.

1. Find the video you want to download

2. Click on Share to first get the Internet address and embed button

3. Click on embed to get the HTML code

4. Paste the code into the HTML part of your blog

5. Your video will now appear miraculously on the Compose side of your blog

If you are reading this post, why not give it a go right now! 

Report back on the Elkanah House TeachMeet and IpadMeet

Submitted by Fiona Beal

Saturday 26 November 2011

This morning I woke up feeling excited. It was TeachMeet day at Elkanah house! Two 'meets' to look forward to at the same venue - one to do with general technology (TeachMeet) and one to do with using Ipads in the classroom (Ipadmeet).  I have written about TeachMeets before on this blog. They are a very exciting form of professional development. I have been to two in South Africa, and both times I have come away with new technology friends, new ideas and new enthusiasm. I normally go home and start trying out everything I learned about!

Highlights from the Teachmeet

Unfortunately there weren't too many 'Keen Beans' that were willing to share something today. Only five of us! But there were quite a number of 'Enthusiastic Lurkers' who will hopefully think about giving a presentation at the next Teachmeet in February. I was thrilled to see that there were four principals at the 'meets'. Lucky schools! If the Head shows an interest there is no telling what can be achieved. There was a Twitter stream going on in the background. You can view it at #elkteachmeet.

1. Use Diigo for bookmarking
Linda Foulkes showed us all the uses of bookmarking using Diigo. I am an avid user of Diigo but there was a lot I didn't know. I must explore more!

Maryne from Elkanah House and Alan from Digicape

2. Use a free video programme called VLC
Jonathon Manley showed us a programme called VLC and highlighted VLC's extra features where you can take snapshots of DVDs played. You can also add Audacity and create your own soundclips. I don't know this programme at all but am certainly going to try it. VLC can be found at

3. Combine creative writing with stop animation movies
Micahel Botha, a Grade 7 teacher showed how her class recreated a Greek myth by using digital cameras and stop animation. They used digital cameras and then MovieMaker to pull it all together. They included voice over and music. Each movie was unique. I can imagine that this makes writing come alive for even the most relectant writer. 

Di and Esther from Someset College

4. How to use your blog as a teaching tool
This was my presentation.  I am currently presenting an online blogging course for teachers around South Africa using a blog as a teaching tool. I have found that the following five programmes come in very handy -,,, Slideshare and Screencast-o-matic.  You can view my presentation here since I also presented it from a blog!

5. Use to find information on your topic
Karen Stadler gave this presentation. You join Scoopit and tell it what topic you want it to investigate. It finds relevant website links and brings them to you. You choose what you want, and hey presto you have a lovely magazine to share with others. I loved this idea. So I come! Incidentally at the Teachmeet two people belonged to Scoopit and you might want to take a look at their magazines. Karen -, and Arthur

Arthur and Karen from Elkanah House in foreground

Highlights from the Ipadmeet

After a break and lots of chatting, eating and interacting it was time for the IpadMeet. Some new teachers arrived. Linda Foulkes write a blogpost previous to this giving ideas on what we should do at this first Ipadmeet. You can read about it here.

1. A marvellous app called Book Creator
Alan Goldberg (Head of Education Development, Digicape) was at the IpadMeet.  He did a workshop at Elkanah House last Saturday where he demonstrated  a wonderful app called Book Creator.    Karen Stadler started off showing the book she created at that workshop. Then Alan showed his book called 'Ethan and Alan in Italy'. It was a recap of a holiday with his teen son.  He showed us how you can embed videos, add hyperlinks and other media into your book and make it come alive. Links at the bottom of the page allow you to email links to your students and colleagues. Any epub reader will open the book.  As a keen writer myself I was completely taken with this app. and its potential. 

Carolynn from Springfield College

2. Read tweets on the Ipad using Flipboard
Karen Stadler showed us this application. This is a great way to read tweets on the Ipad. It gives you your tweets like a newspaper.

Two thoughts struck me at the Ipadmeet.
*Tablets are definitely the way forward.
*I didn't realise the potential in this little device that I am so privileged to own. 

Nicki from Bishops College

It really was worth giving up a Saturday to attend these meets at Elkanah House. The next dual session is to take place on 25 February 2012. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Webinar recording: Get the hang of a Google hangout (27/11/2013)

What is a Google hangout?
Google+ is Google's new social networking tool. I have only just discovered its amazing potential since attending the Google Teacher Academy in New York in October. Google has put a lot of funding into developing Google+ and they are committed to making it work well for education, so it will just get better and better I am sure. Once you have created a circle of friends in Google+ you can choose to hang out with them on Google+. This allows you to video chat, IM chat, watch YouTube videos together, and more.

Summary of benefits
Google Hangouts are part of Google+, Google's new free social networking tool. On a Hangout 10 people (possible 15 on Google Apps) can:
*video chat
*IM (instant message) chat
*watch YouTube videos together
*collaborate on a Google Doc
*use a whiteboard collaboratively
*add effects for fun
*record the Hangout directly on YouTube
*live stream for more viewers
*A minimum of two people
*and more…

A Slideshare showing the steps
This slideshare was used in the SchoolNet webinar of the same name and shows the steps in creating a hangout.

Webinar recording:
Last week SchoolNet had a webinar whih was presented by me (Fiona Beal) on 'Get the hang of a Google Hangout'. Here is the recording (22 mins)

Ideas for using a hangout in the the classroom
• Read a story
• Bring in an expert/guest speaker/author|
• Share from a Slideshare
• Homework tutoring
• Professional Development meeting
• Work on a project together
• Virtual penpals
• Global classroom discussions
• Career Day wit panelists
• Attend other hangouts (Google has a whole library of hangouts)
• Extended discussion on a class topic
• Subject-related hangouts
• Conduct workshops and seminars

Additional reading and viewing
a) A tutorial 
Please note that Google updates its products continually so some features in this video might look different.

b) Further Reading
*How to use Google Hangouts 
*How to Use Google+ Hangouts for Teaching
*How to create a Google event

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A blog can be a fantastic teaching tool in a technology integrated classroom

There are five Web2.0 applications that I think make a blog a really worthwhile teaching tool in a technology integrated classroom. They are:
1) where you can store documents that you have created and link to them.
2) which allows you to embed anything on your blog.
3) Slideshare which maakes an e-book from a PowerPoint or PDF. This is so useful for instructions.
4) Screencast-o-matic where you can explain and show at the same time.
5) where you can give verbal instructions to the class.

Best of all - they are all free!

This slideshare shows you how to use each one of these applications.

Your blog can be a fantastic teaching tool in a technology integrated classroom

Recently I have been running a free online blogging course for teachers around South Africa, and I decided to do all the teaching from a blog to model blogging. I suddenly realised what a fantastic teaching tool a blog can be in a technology integrated classroom. I’d like to share a few of the Web 2.0 applications that can really aid a teacher in a classroom.

1. Use to link to documents you have created

For example


1.1 Join and upload your document. You get 5GB of free space.


1.2 Once your document is uploaded and appears in your list, click on Share. A web address link will appear for you to copy.

1.3 Copy this web address to the spot where you want it in your blog and click on the word link at the top of your blog post to make it an active link.


The result:

"How to add pages to your blog
Take a look at the Tipsheet for a step-by-step guide for adding pages to your blog."

2. Use to link to documents you have created is a fantastic application that allows you to embed all sorts of different documents on your blog by creating an embed code.

For example


2.1 Go to


2.2 Go to My embeds and sign in using one of your accounts – I use my Google account


2.3 Go to Select Files and find the file you want on your computer.


2.4 Copy the embed code into the HTML part of your blog post.


This is the result

Read these instructions:

3. Use for more detailed instructions

Slideshare is a fantastic way to present a book-like instruction to a class. You create each page in PowerPoint.

For example


3.1 Go to, join and click on Upload to find the Powerpoint or PDF you want to use.


3.2 When you document appears click on embed to get the code.


3.3 This is what the code looks like


Result on the blog
4. Use Screencasts to explain something more complicated

4.1 Join and log in. Start recording by following the instructions.


4.2 This is what it looks like when you are finished. You can embed it, upload it to YouTube, or download it as a movie file.

5. Use verbal instructions on your blog using is so easy to use. You can download the result as a .wav file, or you can simply embed it in your blog.

5.1 Join, click to record, record and start speaking when prompted.


5.2 You will be asked to allow your microphone to be used.


*Paste the embed code into your blog


Here is the result

These are just a few of the ways you can make your blog a great teaching tool. Perhaps you have tried out others that you would like to share?