Monday, 31 October 2011

Three SchoolNet trainers featured in Intel’s ‘10 million teachers – Opening Doors of Opportunity’ site

Intel@ Teach recently celebrated training 10 million teachers! (SchoolNet offers their marvelous courses free of charge to educators in South Africa). Intel called this celebration ‘10 million teachers – Opening Doors of Opportunity’ and they asked teachers around the world to submit their teacher stories   Three of our South African teachers (all ‘Schoolnetters’) have their stories featured on their site -

1. Brenda Hallowes


School Name: Cotswold Preparatory School

Subjects: I Am Presently The Computer Teacher At My School

“I completed the Intel Teach to the Future course in September 2003. At the time I was the media teacher at a school in Durban and I was so excited about implementing project-based learning and ICT integration. Unfortunately, a few months later my husband and I re-located to a rural area of Kwa Zulu Natal. I taught in the village school, which didn’t have computers, but I used my personal laptop in my classroom to introduce my Grade 6 class to using technology when we did a project on water. This was a great success and the children couldn’t wait to do more. The project work was also a new approach for the other teachers on the staff and I shared some ideas with them – especially in the area of questioning. Read more… "

2. Dezlin Jacobs


School Name: SchoolNet SA

Subjects: Intel Project Co-ordinator

"I was first introduced to the Intel Teach Program as a student in 2006. I was completing my Post Graduate certificate in Education at the University of Pretoria and the Intel Teach to the Future Course was part of our training. It was my first taste of integrating technology into the classroom and was a springboard for my future. SchoolNet SA invited me to improve my original portfolio—which received a Silver grading—to a Gold and then to go on to become a trainer for Intel Teach to the Future (now titled the Intel Teach Essentials Course)."

3. Peter Moeng


School Name: Boikagong Secondary School

Subjects: Basic Computer Literacy, End User Computing, CAT

"The Intel Teach program has been embraced warmly by teachers and learners alike. There is remarkable interest in using ICT, and learning has been stimulated by the research projects that learners do. There is also remarkable discovery of new skills and new approaches to learning. New basic skills have been taught using computers and there is also development of new practices on how best to integrate teaching and learning. It has created good opportunities to explore and make use of other applications. However, some teachers do not have much interest in working with computers, Internet connectivity is still a need in this area, and a lack of good computers is still a large problem -- particularly with such rapid changes of technology and software."  

SchoolNet would like to congratulate these three educators and all the other SchoolNet trainers around South Africa for their dedication and enthusiasm in training our teachers in how to integrate technology with good pedagogy. 

The 2011 online K-12 conference takes place this month

Submitted by Fiona Beal
I have just been reading about the 2011 K-12 online conference (presumably from the USA) that will be taking place starting 28 November. I have never participated in an online conference before but would like to do so this time to see what it is like, and of course, depending on whether there are topics that  will be of interest. 

Here is a quote from their website:
“The 2011 K-12 Online Conference theme is “Purposeful Play,” and this year our conference will be entirely asynchronous. This means we will not have any “live events,” but all presentations will be posted online for participants to view and comment on days and at times of their choosing. As in the past, all conference presentations will be available for online viewing as well as offline/mobile viewing via our iTunesU channel.

Our 2011 conference will start on Monday, November 21, 2011 with an inspiring pre-conference keynote by Angela Maiers. Angela blogs at
Following Angela’s pre-conference keynote the week of November 21st, four different educators will share keynotes in the strands of our conference. Our 2011 keynote speakers are:
This year there will be 41 presenters and quite a number of different strands to the conference. Find out more at their website:

International Peace Day video - classes around the world working together

Submitted by Fiona Beal

On Tuesday 16 August I wrote a blog post about a Grade 4 class in the USA wanting to create a peace video for International Peace Day on 21st September ( This was the message they put out:
"Dear Classrooms Around the Globe,

This year my fourth grade classroom at Lafayette Regional School in Franconia, NH would like to have a big celebration for International Peace Day on Sept 21, 2011. In honor of this day, I would like my fourth graders to create a multi - cultural vision of peace movie. We would like to collect movies from classrooms around the globe of their MESSAGE OF PEACE. The movies might include poetry, song, dance, or etc. The overall theme of the movie is "A Message of Peace" that answer what peace means to them. The requirement for the video:
Length "21 seconds or less"
Title: "A Message of Peace"
Upload: email your interest to me and I will follow up with instructions for uploading (We will be using Dropbox)
Due Date: Sept 16, 2011
Language: In your own language
Goal: 21 classroom representing all six continents

My students will mash all the videos together to create a international message of peace that will premier on Sept 21, 2011."
Garrett Ferguson is a teacher that I have worked with before on projects - he always does great things with his class.  They had a great response from classes around the world. Two classes from local Fish Hoek schools responded to the blog postand subitted videos - The Rock Academy and Fish Hoek Primary. The Grade 4 Lafayette class created a final verson incorporating everyone's video which I have embedded below. It is so exciting when classes link with other classes around the world. The spin-off of this is that the Rock Academy and Grade 4 Lafyette are going to have a Skype session together soon!

Well done to everyone involved in the video.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Incorporate Screencasting into your lesson plans

Introduction – Jing and Screenr

A few months ago I decided to use screencasting more in lessons. The first programme I tried was Jing. I actually liked it so much that I took out the pro membership which was very cheap but gave more benefits. Then I discovered Screenr which seems to have all the benefits of Jing pro as well, although it is free.   I wanted my class to do two things:
*Learn how to create a Voki
(a little avatar that can speak) .
*Get their Vokis to complain about an issue in society as a writing and speaking task.
How to make a Voki

For this part of the lesson I explained how to make the Voki using The students really enjoyed this lesson. I also made a screencast using Jing on 'How to make a Voki so that the less confident students could practise and finish at home.

How to use Jing

I discovered an amazing site for learning how to use Jing.  Here is an image of it plus the hyperlink.


Give a talk on an issue

*I wanted the class to use their Vokis to express an opinion about an issue.
*I captured an example for them to use using Screenr.

The Task

Today you will make a Voki expressing some strong opinions. Use to do this.

1. Think of something that really irritates you, that you think something should be done about.

2. Here are some sentence starters you could use:

*What really gets on my nerves is … the reason for this is
*What drives me up the wall is … because
*What I can’t stand is … . I think
*What really annoys me is … You see

3. I got this idea and took a Voki screencast  from Ian James's fantastic blog that I follow (


A blogpost about using Screenr

I have written a blog post about how to use Screenr:


Provide access to your Screencasts to the students

What I did is I created a blog especially for Screencasting so that the students could just go to the link and open up the screencasts.  However both Jing and Screenr store your screencasts so you can keep them there with links. Alternatively you can download them to your computer as MP4 files.

Recently I provided this lesson on a PowerPoint at a TeachMeet but the screencasts wouldn’t open for some reason.  I hope that doesn’t happen here!

Further ideas

I think that in the iintegration of your curriculum with technology this would be a great way to help the students that might falter a bit and want to practise at home. If you have a large class the students could go over the instructions using your short screencasts (screencasts should always be short and to the point - no longer than three minutes, for example.)

Why not give screencasting a try?

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Get to know Microsoft Photostory

Microsoft Photo Story 3 is a very popular free application that allows users to create a visual story (show and tell presentation) from their digital photos. The software allows adding narration, effects, transitions and background music to create a Windows Media Video movie file with pan and zoom effects. Once a photo story has been made it can be played on a PC using Windows Media Player. 

Here is a tutorial for using Photostory 3 from the Partners in Learning UK YouTube channel

Classroom uses for this programme are endless.
*It can be used to provide tutorials for the students.
*It can be used to reflect on a year in a class.
*Outings can be recorded on Photostory 3.
*It is very useful to use for students to create projects. 

Thinkquest training in Ghana

This is a guest post submitted by Claire Dean from Stirling Primary. Claire has been a Microsoft Innovative Teacher finalist twice. She has been a world-wide winner of the Thinkquest projects competition along with Brenda Hallowes from Port Elizabeth in 2009. Claire is also a trainer with SchoolNet SA.

The Ghanaian Ministry of Education requested training on “Getting started with ThinkQuest Projects”. Claire Dean (from East London) and Shirley-Ann Oldnall Jansen (from Irene) facilitated these workshops in Accra, Ghana at the beginning of October 2011. They also had a meeting with Mr Charles Aheto-Tsegah, the Deputy Director General of the Ghana Education Service. He would like to put ThinkQuest in all Ghanaian schools with internet connectivity. All went very well and it was a great experience.

Below you can see Claire, Richmond Atta-Williams (of the MoE), Shirley, and Harry Tetteh (former ThinkQuest competition winner as a student in front of the National ICT and Science Resource Centre where the training was held.

Shirley and Claire relaxing on the hotel's private beach

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Enjoy karaoke with Microsoft Songsmith

Microsoft Songsmith is an amazing programme to use in the classroom for creating songs. The students absolutely love it.

What is Songsmith?
Songsmith is a pretty smart programme that creates musical accompaniment to match the voice of whoever is singing. All you have to do is choose a musical style, sing into your PC or laptop microphone, and Songsmith will come up with the backing track for your music. After that you can share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.

Songsmith is free for teachers
The great news is that Songsmith is free for teachers to use in their classrooms. 
Let’s look at this great infomercial from Microsoft Research.

Classroom ideas
• Use it as a reward period for your students
• Make up songs about the curriculum (Maths, Grammar, Poems, Facts from particular subjects)
• Create backings for class movies
• Use in music lessons

Here is a tutorial from the UK Partners in Learning site.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Editing videos in Microsoft PowerPoint 2010

Just recently I have started using Office 2010 and I am delighted to find that PowerPoint has a video editing feature. This YouTube video from Office shows how it is done.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Screencasting with Screenr is so easy

Today I thought I would experiment with Screenr as a screencasting tool to illustrate some aspects that I want to highlight in a talk I am presenting tomorrow. I normally use Jing, and I will write about Jing at some stage as well.

Well first of all I went along to the Screenr website and joined.


There was a video giving instructions right there and so I watched it.  In fact click on the picture below and you will be taken to the instruction video

See how easy it looks. For my talk tomorrow I was to show things as though I am on the Internet because it takes forever to actually click on a link. So after recording my snippet using Screenr I looked at it and it was fine. I then published it and downloaded it as an MP4 movie as I actually want to embed it in my PowerPoint as a movie. I worked! Success!

Don’t believe me? Well, it embeds on a blog as well. Here I am showing Storybird without actually going on to the Internet.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

34 ideas for a classroom blog

Classroom blogging is one of the most exciting ventures for a classroom teacher to embark on. It opens a door of possibilities and makes the way for making a host of new friends around the world. Apart from that it gives parents an opportunity to take a peek into the classroom and see what is happening. I love blogging!

This weekend I presented a workshop entitled ‘Blogging for teachers’ at the EdTechConference at Elkanah House in Cape Town. I started off with the ideas that follow in the slide-share presentation below as a source of inspiration. Then we did the workshop part where the inexperienced bloggers worked from an e-book to create their new blogs, the educators with blogs used one of the inspirational ideas to develop their blog, and I walked around helping whoever needed help.   I also invited the participants who already had blogs to demonstrate their blogs to the rest of the class. 

The latest (2011–2012) iEARN project book has been released

Are you perhaps wanting to start a collaborative project with a class but you don’t quite know where to start? Omashani Naidoo who is the Operations Manager at SchoolNetSA brings our attention to the latest 2011-2012 iEARN Project Description Book which is now available on the web at: This book is full of project ideas where the originators of the projects are looking for a class to collaborate with. Why not take a look? (Please note that there will be new iEARN projects continually developing.  You can visit for the most up to date project list.)  

Evaluating the impact of technology integration at St Cyprians School in Cape Town

This is a guest post written by Nina Adams who is Head of ICT at St Cyprians in Cape Town. She plans, implements and manages all things ICT, from infrastructure to staff training.  She also heads up the Microsoft Innovative Schools programme which means she is responsible for researching, implementing and documenting best practice in the areas of innovation and ICT integration. St Cyprians is passionate about technology and innovation, and its impact on 21st century teaching and learning. Nina has recently evaluated their move to technology integration and has allowed us to use this post she posted on the St Cyprian’s Blog that she is responsible for maintaining -

In an effort to evaluate the impact of ICT integration into our school curriculum, we recently conducted an informal case study consisting of student and teacher interviews. These interviews are based on seven projects with ICT components, ranging from Grade 4 to Grade 10 students, across a range of subjects, and were conducted by a representative from SchoolNet South Africa. (All projects have been posted on our school blog.) Although our initial findings are by no means conclusive or irrefutable, the responses from students and teachers highlighted the following interesting trends:
  • Many students who usually achieve average to below average marks in ‘traditional’ projects such as essays or posters have shown significant improvement with the inclusion of an ICT component for e.g. Movie Maker or Glogster. They ascribed this to the fact that different types of projects engaged different learning styles, as not all students are good at writing or exam-taking. They also reported an overall increase in confidence and interest due to their higher marks and additional creative elements of the project.
  • Students who usually achieve relatively high marks for ‘traditional’ assessment projects, such as essays, tests or exams, reported that they found the integration of ICT quite challenging. They felt this was due to the fact that these projects often included a high degree of collaboration with students of mixed level abilities. That meant that they had to learn patience and team work, both important 21st century skills.
  • Teachers have reported that students with special learning needs also benefit from ICT tools, for e.g. Mouse Mischief, reading software tools and others. In many cases, collaborating in groups with their peers has given students the opportunity to learn from and assist each other, with some amazing results.
From the interview responses, we have learned some important lessons:
  • Technology should not be the driver: ICT integration often overemphasises the need for digital literacy skills whilst ignoring important basic skills, such as reading, writing and maths. We have found that successful ICT integration involves a balance; technology should enhance and support teaching and learning, rather than drive it.
  • Separating ICT from other subjects: In the past, ICT has usually been viewed as a separate subject, often taught in separate IT labs. Teachers have reported increased engagement and interest in their subjects by integrating ICT as a supportive mechanism or creative addition to a project, rather than as a separate learning outcome. We have also piloted mini ‘break-away’ labs in classrooms with increasing success; teachers can then access computers during class instead of booking an IT lab which often breaks the flow of a class.
  • The best project ideas are usually the simplest ideas: In the case of our award-winning Grade 4 project, students still had to complete a creative reading and writing assignment as they usually would. Then one new element was added, which in this case was the creation of a multi-media movie based on their written stories. In the case of the Grade 10 book blogs, traditional book logs simply evolved to an electronic blog version, allowing increased visibility and the ability to comment on each other’s work.
  • Some of the best ICT tools are free: Find out more under the ‘Resources’ section of the school blog.
  • Rapid technology changes: We often worry about rapid changes in technology and are therefore constantly looking ahead at the ‘next best thing’. In our experience, there is value in concentrating on what you already have and making the most of it before moving on to something new.
  • Teacher collaboration and sharing is essential for success: This can be through teacher show ‘n tell, by sharing lessons during staff meetings or by joining online learning communities. We cannot encourage 21st century skills in students if we don't practise them ourselves and we have found teacher collaboration to be a wonderful source of ideas, lesson plans and inspiration.
  • Teacher training and support is key: Professional development needs to be part of school culture. With the right training, support and encouragement, even resistant staff can be motivated to try new methods or technologies.
Here is a movie in which some of the students and a teacher at St Cyprians are interviewed about the AIDS awareness project they completed using Windows Movie Maker.