Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Some exciting global collaborative projects for you to consider!

Introducing IEARN Projects
Have you heard of IEARN projects?  (http://www.iearn.org/) They have so many wonderful projects that teachers can get involved in.  Did you know that if you create a project and want teachers to join you, you can advertise it through IEARN projects? Why don’t you take a look through their project book which is embedded at the end of this post,  and see if there’s a project that interests you? It is important to note that if you are interested in joining one of these projects you would need to register as IEARN teachers on the http://www.iearn.org/ site in order to participate? Just click on Join/Contact us and register.

Highlighting some projects in Israel
Omashani Naidoo, who is our Operations Manager at SchoolNet SA has a close friend in Israel, Ruti Hotzen, who especially asks if any teachers would like to join one of her two projects. You’ll find them mentioned in the project book.
·        Talking kites all over the world (page 24)
·        Daffodils and tulips (page 46)

Why not join the 'Onedayonearth' project?
Omashani also recommends considering the onedayonearth project which is co-ordinated by Chris Baer (USA) and Marta Garcia Lorea (Argentina).  You'll find this on page 21 in the book. This is scheduled for 11/11/11 (11th November 2011). On November 11th, across the planet, documentary filmmakers, students, and other inspired citizens will record the human experience over a 24-hour period and contribute their voice to the second annual global day of media creation called ONE DAY ON EARTH. Together, they will create a shared archive and a film. Take a look at their website: http://www.onedayonearth.org/

You can see some news about last year's event at this link (along with lots of the student-produced videos) -- http://www.iearn.org/news/article/iearn-participants-document-one-day-life-through-101010-video-challenge

Here is an article in today's New York Times (30 August 2011) for more info and background:

Enjoy looking through the IEARN book of projects. Why don't you take the plunge and get involved? 

Keyboarding – do you still type with two fingers?

A recent post written on keyboarding by Jacqui Murray got me thinking again about my lack of keyboarding skills. I don’t know about you but I STILL can’t type properly.  After all these years I still type with two fingers at great speed, always looking at my keyboard AND I make dozens of typos! They are not spelling mistakes – it is just that my fingers get in the way of each other. A parent assured me recently that he recently found a keyboarding site on the internet and taught himself to type properly in two weeks by practising daily. So it can be done! In the wave of technology that is descending on us with such rapid speed, shouldn’t we be pointing our students to some kind of typing programme that they can work on at home? I really don’t want my students to end up like me! I want them to develop fast, accurate typing skills.

Qwerty keyboard

To check whether your keyboard is a QWERTY keyboard, just take a look a the first six keys on the top left. If they spell QWERTY then your keyboard is the typical computer keyboard.

 Finger exercises

A post on finger exercises in ehow.com mentions that "typing requires finger dexterity and practice. Incorrect placement of fingers on the keyboard and weak finger muscles can lead to repetitive use injuries. Twenty-nine bones, 29 joints, 123 ligaments and 34 muscles are used every time you type a sentence, according to the website for the Electronic Textbook of Hand Surgery. Finger exercises for typing can strengthen muscles and prevent injuries".

In this blog post I am going to point you to some keyboarding sites, and then I am going to highlight Jacqui Murray’s novel idea. She created a wiki with a three weeks typing programme on it for her students.

Keyboarding sites

First, let’s look at some free typing programmes on the Internet. There are so many of these that there's really no excuse for not learning fast typing skills.

1. BBC Schools' Dance Mat typing. Work your way through 4 levels. I have used this one frequently at school and the students love it.

2. TypingWeb is a free online typing tutor & keyboarding tutorial for typists of all skill levels. TypingWeb also offers officially sanctioned typing and 10 Key certification.

3. Test your typing speed:

4. A whole collection of sites related to keyboarding.

5. Typing exercise:

6. A teacher’s typing manual:

8. Peter’s online typing course:

9. Krazy keyboarding for kids:

10. A free online typing course called Goodtyping:http://www.goodtyping.com/

11. A typing test and a free typing tutor called Learn 2 Type:http://www.learn2type.com/

12. Finger jig – This is a 6 minute typing game that tests your typing ability. Words are randomly chosen from a dictionary of over 70,000 words. You must try and type the words as quickly and accurately as you can.

13. A typing tutor called Touch typing study:

14. A lovely selection of keyboarding games for students:

I wonder if you can suggest any others that you enjoy using?

Jacqi Murray’s keyboarding wiki

Jacqui has this novel idea of setting up a wiki with a three week programme that her students can use at home.  I like this idea so much. You can view Jacqui's original keyboarding post here at this address: (http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/weekend-website-63-teach-keyboarding/ ) To visit her wiki site click on the picture below:

She has a page called ‘What we did today’ that lists the suggested daily routine. 

Well, maybe there’s hope for me after all to become a touch typist. If you look at what is available on the internet there is just no excuse! Do you perhaps have any other sites to suggest?

Monday, 29 August 2011

What about entering the Star Teachers competition for South Africa?

I was wondering if any of you would like to enter the Star Teacher competition for South Africa?  You have to to enter a community-based project. I entered this competition in 2009 with my Bonding through Blogging project with the elderly and received a fourth place. 1st - 3rd place were flown to the Awards ceremony in Johannesburg. In 4th place I received R1000, a beautiful Parker Pen set and a gorgeous certificate which I still have displayed in my home!

Here are the details from an email I received. There are only two days left - so please hurry! (31st August is the closing date!) https://www.ed.org.za/index.php/teachers?layout=blog

Dear Education Stakeholders

We believe that every teacher is a Star in their own right and The Stars in Education Awards are our way of celebrating and rewarding the teachers who have gone the extra mile in making a positive difference in the lives of their learners and even their surrounding communities.

To Enter: POST: your story to The Stars in Education Awards, Freepost CB8152, PO Box 7177, Stellenbosch 7599 (no stamp required)
FAX: 021 865 2166
ONLINE: www.ed.org.za
Your entry must include - Name and Surname- Name of School, Address and Contact Number- Project Name- Project Description- What made you start this project?- Challenges Faced- How did you overcome those challenges?Feel free to attach photos to your entry!

Or, take a few minutes and click here to enter online.

Follow ED.org.za to track development with us:


Yours in collaboration,

Glanville Valentine
Education Media Manager
083 247 2581

Sunday, 28 August 2011

More TeachMeet ideas from the Partners in Learning Institute week in July 2011

In a previous post I mentioned about TeachMeets that we were introduced to at the Partners in Learning Institute in July 2011.  At that stage some of us had never even heard of the concept before but we loved the idea and have taken it back to our countries.  We were videoed presenting our teachmeets, but the file is too big to process. However, some of the innovative participators have redone their presentations and have uploaded them to a video site! Here they are to date!

1. Arjana on Vodpad

3. Bart on YouTube

4. Yugoslava used Screenr


I am hoping that this idea of Teachmeets will really spread in South Africa. This is a great way to share integration-with-technology ideas. If you hold a TeachMeet in your area PLEASE let us know about it!

When did you last use Skype in your classroom?

Skype is a programme that can connect teachers and pupils all over the globe FOR FREE – yet many schools are unaware of its amazing potential. All you need is a computer connected to the internet in the classroom! Want to know more?

How do you get started?

If you haven’t tried Skype before it is really worth giving it a try. Skype has recently started to make it a lot easier for teachers to find each other by creating a Skype in the classroom website. Now there is no excuse to start using Skype! Why don’t you take a look? http://education.skype.com/ Click on the picture below! It shows the latest educators to join the site.

10 way chat is a great new feature

Version 5 which came out last year brought out some fantastic new features the best of which has to be the 10 way video chat which is brilliant! I am not sure if this facility is free.

How can Skype for Educators help you?

The http://education.skype.com/website has a whole list of projects to get involved in:

How to find a project on Skype in the classroom from Skype in the classroom on Vimeo.

There is step by step instruction on how to get started and find like-minded teachers:

How to create a profile and find a teacher from Skype in the classroom on Vimeo.

There are many resources to explore:

How to find a resource on Skype in the classroom from Skype in the classroom on Vimeo.

Where else can you find classrooms to Skype with?
1. Edublogs gives a whole directory of teachers looking for Skype partners. They have even added the time zone of the teachers which is something that is important to note.

2. The Skype in schools wiki:

3. Around the world in 80 days Skype project: 

4. Want-ads - looking for educators to skype with:

What sort of things can you do with Skype in the classroom?

1. You can debate!

2. Here are 10 great ideas:

3. You can even give students skype jobs in the classroom! http://langwitches.org/blog/2010/04/11/skype-jobs-for-students/

4. What about inviting an author? Here is a post about the author and illustrator Mike Artell

5. This is another post about author and illustrator Jan and Phil Huling-

6. A post by Jack Kenny lists some of the ideas she has noticed:

7. This is a popular post showing 50 things you can do with Skype:

8. More ideas from Shelley Terrell:

Did you know that experts are willing to come into your classroom?

1. A list of experts willing to skype into your classroom:

2. Skype an author network:

Want a few tips before you start?

1. Watch a great video by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s Presentation ‘Around the World with Skype” to get you started

2. Skype tips:

3. How I taught skype to my class by Coolcat Teacher. Vicki has also added a detailed step-by-step video in her post.

4. Dummies guide to Skype:

Livebinders with Skype resources

A Livebinder is a great way to share a variety of resources on a topic. There are several good Skype livebinders to explore.

1. Making connections with Skype

2. Skype in the classroom

Recording your Skype sessions

Wikis with Skype resources

1. Technology 4 Kids Wiki: Skype Resources

2. Skype in School Wiki:

So then, why should you Skype?

Why not give it a go? Please comment and tell us of your Skype experiences. We would really love to know about them!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Collaborate with a country new to your experience

Are you planning a collaborative project this year or next year? Have you considered linking with a school in Israel? I must confess I have done projects with schools in many countries but have never had a school from Israel among them. Via Twitter (@Langwitches) I came across this link today.  It seems that RT the Israel Ministry of Education looking  for twin schools around the world

The website says that “collaboration and communication is one of the main outputs of the National ICT Program.  Students are expected to perform learning tasks while using a variety of collaborative tools available on-line. Our goal is to promote intercultural communication between schools from different sectors, cities or countries. Herewith is a list of 20 Israeli exemplary schools which demonstrate broader integration of ICT along with the use of advanced pedagogical processes.One may find a diversity of population and form of habitat in this list: Jewish, Arab, Druse, observant (religious) or secular in central urban cities, development towns, rural settlement areas with cooperatives like Moshav or Kibbutz and so on.”
It goes on to provide a list of schools with contact details.

Mmm, this could be a way of linking with a country new to one’s experience.  I wonder if language would be a problem? Why not consider writing to one of these schools?

Have you see the provisional programme for Elkanah House's upcoming ITC Conference?

I think it is wonderful when a school takes initiative and plans a really exciting ITC programme for the local teachers. Elkanah House in Tableview has worked really hard in this regard to provide a great interactive programme for teachers in all subjects who are interested in combining their curriculum with technology (Sept 30th and October 1st). They have called on the expertise of EdTechConf to aid them in this endeavour.

Click on this picture to look at the provisional programme (if that doesn't work, click on the link below):


Perhaps we will see some of our SchoolNet premium members there?

Thursday, 18 August 2011

SchoolNet's Adobe Youth Voices programme sends a team to California

It is really worth participating in SchoolNet’s Adobe Youth Voices programme as Hlengiwe Mfeka discovered. Hlengiwe took part in the programme, and she and 2 of her learners from Mconjwana High School in rural KZN were selected to go to Santa Clara, California on the 2 August 2011 to attend the Adobe Youth Voices Summit where their very thought-provoking and moving movie on Street Children was screened.  Let me tell you a bit about Hlengwie. She is currently working for SchoolNet SA as an ICT Support Specialist who is responsible for mentoring educators taking part in the KZN Midlands SITA project.  She is also responsible for a range of ICT training initiatives of teachers in the province. In 2009 she won a Microsoft Innovative Teacher’s Award in South Africa for her project entitled My community, My Place, My Pride, and she  went on to represent South Africa at the Pan African Finals with her project.  Later in the same year Hlengiwe and two other SA educators along with one learner each were invited to participate in a live conferencing event with Nigerian educators which was attended by the Education Ministers of both South Africa and Nigeria in Microsoft’s Offices in Johannesburg.  In 2010, she was featured in Destiny Magazine February issue as one of the South African women on the move in the Education field.  Here is Hlengiwe’s guest post about her visit to California

2011 AYV Summit
Sadness was written on the face of the parents and friends when we left them at the international boarding gate of King Ushaka airport late on the 1st of August 2011 Monday; of course they were happy for us but anxious.  On the other hand both Nontobeko and Mpumelelo were over the moon. 
The duration of our flights from Durban to Dubai was almost 9hrs.   We waited for +2hrs to connect the next flight to San Francisco.  We then left Dubai at 9h00am on Tuesday and arrived at San Francisco the following day at 13h30pm; amazingly it was Tuesday there.  We discovered that California is behind South African time by 9hrs.
Departing from King Ushaka Airport

Tuesday, August 2
We met the other team from Nigeria at the airport who were also Summit attendees; we then stick to each other.  We arrived at Santa Clara University something to 5pm; it is about 45 min away from the airport.  Kate Goddard who is a Summit Event Manager warm welcomed and assisted us with the registration.  We thereafter check in to our rooms; teachers were allocated on the same block while students were allocated on a different block which was away from ours.   It was dinner time already at 5h30pm to 6h30pm.  We were instructed to assembly at Benson Center after dinner for Orientation and Welcome.  When we arrived we thought we will have time to rest after a long travelling to our surprise there was no such.
We were welcomed by EDC and Adobe staff members where they shared the slogan of the week which was ‘extraordinary’; saying each day of the week will be an extra ordinary.  Youth were introduced to their Media Mentors and counsellors.  Media Mentors were to facilitate a collaborative project with Youth production crews while counsellors were to take care of each production group (act like boarding masters or matrons).
Youth production groups consisted the following:
·         Human Rights (which South Africa team belonged to)
·         Community
·         Environment
·         Education
·         Identity
·         Culture
·         Relationships
·         Change

Youth groups had to create a media project that represents the group’s diverse global perspective and inspires audience with a positive vision within two days.   On the other hand Lead Educators (that is how educators were called) had their programme which included sharing of innovative curriculum ideas and ways to facilitate and encourage high quality Youth produced media.  Our main task was to create a short instructional video on a given topic.  We were also divided into eight teams of four members each. 
The teams were given their topics:
After the orientation we had an evening activity which aimed at attendees get to know each other.  Each participant was given a paper with prompts where they had to find people who are able to do what is written on the prompt.  This activity was led by Deidre Searcy, EDC Senior Associate who was also a Lead Educator Instructor or Facilitator for the week.  After the activity Youth and Educator met with their collaboration groups to create a motion or animated slogan of their group.  All groups thereafter shared their slogans. 
Wednesday, August 3
Everyday breakfast starts at 7h30 to 8h30am, Lunch at 12h00 to 1h00pm and Dinner at 5h30 to 6h30.  Those were the only times I will get to see Nontobeko and Mpumelelo.
In the morning we all attended an opening session at the Recital Hall.  We were addressed by Ms Laura Ling; an American journalist who is a correspondent for Current TV which is a political and youth-orientated channel.   She is also a Vice President of Current TV Vanguard Journalisim Unit, which produces the Vanguard TV series.   Laura shared her experiences where she was held a prisoner for twelve years hard labor for doing her work as a journalist.  She talked about what sustained her throughout that painful period and how she was able to maintain hope.   She offered advice on how to create projects that are personally meaningful to youth.  I was deeply inspired and moved by her talk which motivated everyone to go back to their countries and speak out using media creation as an instrument. 
Laura Ling a political journalist

There was a breakaway workshop for Youth Media Collaboration (Youth) and Lead Educator Training (Educators).  Groups brainstorming, planning pre-production and taking photo shoots for their videos. 
In our Lead Educator Training; educators introduced themselves and I was happy to meet two of my mentors from my AYV online course – Ivo and Svetlana.  I also met in person with Lisa from IEARN who was also happy to meet me, she is very humble.  Communication was a bit of a problem as some of the educators had difficulties with speaking English.  There were interpreters organized for other teachers and learners to sit next to them e.g. Columbia, Japan etc.
 In my group I had teachers from San Francisco – Jorge Goncalves, New York – Sarah Moore and Argentina – Federico Waisbaum.  I felt that our skills complimented as we were working together.  There was a lot to do in a short space of time as we were only given two days to complete our video.  
Nontobeko and Mpumelelo seemed to cope well in their groups from the conversations that we had during breaks.  They appreciated their group members whom they say were very welcoming and warm but crazy (very noisy, talk their minds, hyper active etc) out of all the participants.  Knowing Mpumelelo as a shy person; I was surprised to observe him slowly adapting to their craziness.  When their group learned that his second name is Gladman they said he is indeed a glad man. 
Thursday, August 4
The morning started with an opening session where participants were given an opportunity to share key learning experiences from the previous day.
Youth Collaborative Media Project and Lead Educator Training continued where everyone was working under pressure to finish the video.  Educators groups were to showcase their videos other educators at 14h00pm.  As we were chasing time it was not easy to learn new advanced media skills from team mates.  Nevertheless I had an opportunity to explore more techniques in premier elements.  I enjoyed the showcasing time; videos created by educators were dynamic.
Late in the evening students were finalizing their projects as they were to be showcased on Saturday morning before Youth Live.  Nontobeko told me that together with Mpume were tasked to edit their group video; she mentioned that they were managing.  I was relieved but anxious since editing is very challenging stage.
Temitopi (Nigeria), Tanga (India) and helngiwe (South Africa)
Friday, August 5
Tour to Adobe Headquarters at San Jose, Carlifornia
Breakout sessions were planned for educators to take place at Adobe Headquarters as follows:
Motion Graphics with After Effects: Learn to incorporate motion graphics titles or animations for video projects.
Photoshop and Design: Learn the design, layout and create composite collages that can be incorporated into AYV program.
Connect, Captivate, and Presenter: Learn how to create tutorials to collaborate more easily with youth and educators globally with Adobe Captivate, Connect and Presenter.
My first choice was to attend After Effects session but it was already full then I attended Photoshop and Design.  I found the workshop interesting and it refreshed my skills in using Photoshop.  We only had two hours session which was not enough.  I wished we had more workshops of that kind spread over the days.  After the workshop we explored Adobe building, different departments and cool features of the building which includes: gym, laundry, massages room, inside restaurants, diet health advisors, computer labs, tennis ground and lot more.  All these facilities are available to staff for free.  Adobe has 2000 staff in total.
Youth gathered together at one common venue where they participated on planned activities for them.
After lunch we visited San Francisco attractions to name a few; Beach, Golden Gate Famous Bridge, Museum, Botanic Gardens etc.  This time educators were united with their youth.  We had 2hrs of our own at Pier 39; a very long street in San Francisco. This was a more relaxed day for all of us.
Saturday, August 6
This day was spent on exhibition of work created by both educators and youth.  All eight videos created by educators were screened for everyone to see.  Youth videos were specially screened at the main hall where youth had to first present how they created their piece.  Nontobeko and Mpumelelo well presented their piece and further answered questions from the audience which were specifically directed to them.  They were very confidence on stage such that other teachers commented that they seem to be familiar with public speaking.  They made South Africa proud especially that when we came I was uncomfortable with the fact that educators seemed to be highly skilled and most of them teach media in their schools.  I felt like I don’t fit in and it was a mistake for us to be there.  That was cleared though on day two of our arrival during discussions and media creation.
Mpumi responding to a question from the audience

Adobe Youth Voices Live
In the afternoon we went to San Jose Theatre to attend Youth Voices Live which was also attended by local residents and other people of high profile.  Black Eyed Peas was one of the prestigious guest who both entertained and motivated the audience. 
Youth Collaborative Videos were to be screened at this event including other selected videos from AYV Media Jam.
·         Nontobeko shared a talk with all Summit Attendees about their experiences when creating their own video and the impact that it had on their lives personally and other people who had viewed it.
·         Our video, Children’s Rights in South Africa was one of the seven videos selected to be screened at the theatre.  We didn’t know about this until we were sat at the theatre browsing the programme.  That was a WOW moment and great honour for us.  After the show we were ‘celebrities’ interviewed by local people and media crew about our video and experience at the Summit.  South Africa was on the spot light again!
Nontobeko being interviewed by a media crew

It was a phenomenal week; lots of collaboration, exploring, sharing, Innovation etc.  It was indeed an extraordinary week.
I have learnt that in other countries educators actively work with youth to produce lots of media projects.  They also organize exhibition where educators and youth are invited to share their work.  I am inspired to work with teachers in South Africa to create media projects and to also conduct face to face trainings for them when necessary.  The software that is used is challenging and one can easily give up if there is no strong support or assistance on how to use it.
Thank you to SchoolNet.
Here is the movie on streetchildren called 'Children's Rights in South Africa'.