Monday, 27 February 2012

Please visit - a wonderful South African resource site for R-3 teachers

Do take a look at our wonderful ‘proudly South-African” site,,  that provides a delightful array of FREE beautifully created worksheets for our South African teachers. This site, e-Classroom,  has reached over 500 000 hits and is the number one “e-classroom” website on Google!

e-Classroom is a portal which provides free support resource material for educators and parents and is aimed at learners in Grades R-3. Their content is very much in line with 21st century learning, and the worksheets are creative and promote motor skills.  These cover the subject matters of Maths, English, Science, Health and Nutrition, Life Skills, Art and Craft. This is all open source and provided to users via their website at no cost.

Do take a look around. You’ll see the Foundation Phase CAPS documents have been posted there, and the worksheets are out of this world! These worksheets could save teachers a LOAD of time…something every teacher needs! I am sure the learners will love using them as not only are they beautifully presented, but they are fun to work with.

One of the new sections that I absolutely LOVE is called ‘Learn to draw’. The learners can practise drawing all sorts of animals using these methods. This is found within the ‘Latest Content’ section where you can browse and see what is on offer that might interest you.

Save our elephants petition 

I noticed this petition form called ‘Save our elephants’ petition on the website on behalf of the IFAW Animal Action Team, encouraging world leaders to uphold and enforce the ban on ivory trade. That’s a good cause to make known to our learners and be involved in right now.

The site owners say “This initiative is open to all primary schools nationally in South Africa and we welcome constructive feedback participation from educators and parents.”  I am sure they would welcome your comments.  Let them know what you think.

Make an Internet Start Page for your class using Protopage

Wondering what an Internet Start Page is? A Start Page is for your classroom Internet use. When students log on to the Internet this page will come up and on it will be links to everything you might want them to use - targetted links, a clock, possibly even a dictionary, notes etc. Let me start off by showing you a sample from the site we will use. This is how it looks before you have  modified the page to your liking.

I don't know if you are like I have been when it comes to technology integration? I have all my websites saved in my Diigo bookmarks, and otherwise on files saved on my computer. It was often a mission to pass this on to my students. Recently I read a post by the ever-inspiring Jacqui Murray suggesting an Internet Start Page in passing on her post. This idea really 'jumped out' of the page and I started to explore.

The first thing to do is to open Protopage (http;// to reister and name your page. You then give your page a title, and you start deleting all the 'widgets' that are there as placeholders. You'll end up like this.

You can change the background but I haven't explored that aspect yet. From then on you start adding your own widgets by clicking on 'Add widget'.  There are a huge amount to choose from, but I found myself choosing mainly 'bookmarks' and one or two others.

You can add as many widgets as you like and make them the size you want as well. You can place them wherever you like on the page. You name them and start adding bookmarks etc. It is such fun! I started to make one to collect Reading and Writing sites for Grade 1 - 6.

Jacqui Murray gives the link to her K-8 page, and it is a source of inspiration to me. Take a look at hers yourself:  If you decide to create an Internet Start Page please share your link with me!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Experimenting with forms - especially Google forms

I just love all the different features of Slideshare. Last week I explored adding YouTube videos to Slideshare. Today was my day with experimenting with the Slideshare playlist widget.  I got the idea from First of all I created my three PowerPoints about creating online forms. I uploaded those to Slideshare:
1) Google forms – so easy to create
This form is definitely my favourite. I can’t believe that Google can give us so many superb programmes FREE. What I especially like about Google forms is that they automatically create their own collection site for you to review the results.
2) Create an Email Me form

3) Have you tried Survey Monkey for creating surveys?

The next step was to upload these to Slideshare. Once that was done I had to make each one a ‘favourite’ by clicking on the presentation to view it and then clicking on ‘Favourites’.Now it was time to experiment with the playlist widget. This took me to a page where I could arrange it all.


The only problem is that if I try to make this playlist Slideshare less wide so that it fits in to the blog using Firefox or Internet Explorer as a browser, it doesn't work! So I have omitted putting it here apart from the screenshot.

This idea of a playlist originated from looking at Judi Barrett's playlist where she created a whole series of lessons this way:

Sunday, 19 February 2012

All Things Google - a collection of tutorial videos embedded on a Slideshare

I absolutely LOVE this feature of Slideshare where you can embed YouTube videos within Slideshare instead of having a string of them on your blog page. Well, today I got rather ambitious and thought I would gather a collection of the Google tutorials I have been learning from recently...12 videos... to see if adding a large amount of videos would work. It seems that it does work. Well, it was a lengthy affair because I first got all the urls incorrect. You have to use the url that shows under the video after clicking on 'Share'. Two of the videos would just not take! So, instead of redoing the whole thing and replacing my Slideshare, I thought that I would post it for now...and return to the problem on another occasion. 
All things Google - a collection of tutorials
View more PowerPoint from fionabeal

Application for teaching

1. You could have your lesson planned and outlined on Slideshare and as you go through it your video clips and even your Screencasts if it was a technology linked lesson could be right there. If this was placed on your classroom blog the students could access it that evening to review.
2. Slideshare has another feature which I am going to try next where you can use a widget and include  a whole lot of lessons you have created using videos and Slideshare presentations; and can link them in a playlist down the side.  Here is an image of this done by Judi Barrett (after which I will give the link to the real thing).

You can see what I mean by viewing the real thing at:

Classroom Innovation - is your classroom like this?

The prestigious Google Academy for 2012 is coming up in London in April and applications had to be in last week. Applicants were given a choice of two topics for creating a video to accompany their online application form, 'Classroom Innovation' and 'Learning and Motivation'. I came across Martin Burnett's video on Classroom Innovation today - just love it. Don't we all want classrooms like this?  By the way, Martin Burnett was the winner of the Best Educational Wiki for 2011 It is REALLY worth taking a look at his wiki.

3000 visitors to our SchoolNet blog. Yay!

3000 visitors to our SchoolNet blog. Yay!

logo maker -

doctor reviews

Monday, 13 February 2012

Webinar of past winners shows the creative ideas teachers come up with to enter Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Forum

At the moment we are having a series of nine webinars featuring past finalists and winners in Microst’s Partners in Learning Forum (formerly called the Innovative Teacher competition)  I have thoroughly enjoyed hosting and listening to these twice a week as it shows me that we have some very creative teachers in our midst. I have also had the tasks of converting these webinars to YouTube videos and podcasts which makes for easier viewing 

Today I am going to feature the webinar presented by Helen Robertson, Wessel Theron, Ryan Galving and Sarietjie Musgrave . After the little write ups about the projects I will add the vdieos and podcasts. If you are a South African teacher please considering entering this great competition. Some of these presenters travelled up to Joburg for the South African Finals, then went off to Jordan for the African and Middle east finals. Some even got to the World Finals in Washington DC. What a year of travel in 2011!

Helen Robertson who was teaching at Cornwall Hill College in Pretoria at the time

Helen’s project was called Functions for Technologically Functioning Teens. In the webinar she renamed it ‘It all started with a cell phone’. Getting learners to plot and analyse functions is a tricky part of the grade 10 Mathematics curriculum. To address this, learners used a cell phone app to plot the functions whilst they focused on the more important skill of analysing the effects of changing the variables. Support structures, including contacting their teacher using Whatsapp and asking questions of the “Functions for Technologically Functioning Teens” Facebook group, encouraged independent learning. 


Wessel Theron from Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town

Wessel called his project ‘School of Rock’. To create interest and excitement in additional language lessons, this project involved learners searching for their own Afrikaans song and then creating a music video for it that is shared on YouTube. Grade 8s had to work in pairs to match images to the lyrics of the song. They also had the option of translating a song and singing it themselves. This was a perfect opportunity to be creative using ICTs, improve Afrikaans comprehension and vocabulary, and be entertained while learning. 


Ryan Galvin from St Nicholas in Pietermaritzburg
Ryan called his project R and J in R and B which is short for Romeo and Juliet in Rhythm and Blues. In an attempt to persuade his grade ten class that the story of Romeo and Juliet is relevant to any time, this teacher offered learners the opportunity to re-tell the story and revise the play. Learners made use of MP3s on their cellphones, iPods, YouTube, Twitter, digital cameras and videos. The final task was creating a MovieMaker slideshow, using the music, tweets and photos they had gathered.


Sarietjie Musgrave who was teaching at Eunice High School in Bloemfontein at the time.
She did a hugely successful project called ‘Spread the sunshine’ and did South Africa proud by achieving a second place in the world finals with this project! Her students each found students with disabilities in the community to link with and created ICT programmes to help them.


Here are their YouTube presentations neatly tucked into this Slideshare presentation. Their podcasts will appear below.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Join our webinar session of past winners at 5pm today!

This afternoon we have another webinar of three past finalists or winners in the South African Partners in Learning forum. Please log in as a guest and join us if you can:

Ngaka Ralekoala from Bloemfontein
We have Ngaka Ralekoala who worked in a team of four in a project about vulnerable children. In this project learners from participating schools received training in ethics and research methodology and then conducted research in their local community to determine the needs of vulnerable children.  Through this project, learners have been given the opportunity to collaborate with other schools, the University of the Free State as well as experts in the field of Social Action research from the De Montford University in the United Kingdom via the Internet. 

Charli Wiggil from Eden College in Durban
 We also have Charli Wiggil from Durban who did a project around the world cup in South Africa called ‘Tweenzites’. In this grade 10 Life Orientation project involved learners identifying a contemporary problem in their community and exploring it using various technological tools (Intel Thinking with Technology, GPRS, cell phones, Microsoft Office Applications etc). Learners were then challenged to devise strategies to address the problem that they identified and these were presented to local community and government leaders, community members, educators and learners from other schools. It is hoped that the municipality might implement some of the suggestions through their Department Planning Programme. One of the groups developed a DVD to be used in Life Skills by other schools.

Glen Williams from Sunridge Primary in Port Elizabeth
 The third teacher is Glen Williams who did a project which he calls ‘Silent Morals’ around a particular IT programme called Scratch.Glen says " Well , my grade 6 learners had to USE what they learnt in basic programming, EXPLORE, and CREATE an ANIMATED SILENT MOVIE which DEPICTS a MORAL VALUE or LESSON.You will see that I start AND end this presentation with the word FUN, because I believe that education must be ENGAGING in a FUN way. Projects allow learners the FREEDOM to EXPERIMENT with what they already learnt in a STRUCTURED way AND forces them to EXPLORE things which they haven’t learnt yet, without RELYING on a teacher."

This all makes for some interesting listening this evening. If you can’t make it the recording will be placed on the wiki tomorrow. ( But please join us if you can this evening at 5pm:

Well, five 'o clock has now been and gone and the webinar is over. Here is a Slideshare with embedded YouTube videos showing the webinars of these three finalists. Take a watch and a listen if you have the time.

Otherwise, listen to their podcasts instead

Ngaka Ralekoala - Children who care (mp3)

Charli Wiggil - Tweenzite (mp3)

Glen Williams - Silent Morals (mp3)

What are YOU doing about the Partners in Learning Forum this year?

Can you feel the excitement in the air? it's time to be preparing for Microsoft's Partners in Learning Forum. This is an exciting competition that used to be called the Innovative Teacher competition. There are some superb prizes available, and it is really worth giving it your best shot. The competition involves taking something you are doing in class and adding technology to it.

If you are successful you could be in for a year that involves travel and adventure! If you haven't started a project yet and you are still floundering for ideas, well, I have prepared a Slideshare to help you. Just remember that entries have to be uploaded by 12 March 2102. For more information please look at the wiki we have created to guide you through the days until closing date - http://partnersinlearningforum-sa.wikispaces. You can still sign up so that we can take a special interest in you.

Here is the Slideshare:

So, what are YOU doing about the Partners in Learning Forum this year?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

SchoolNet's webinar and podcast programme now in full force

This is the time of the year where SchoolNet and Microsoft combine to prepare interested South African teachers for the upcoming Partners in Learning Forum. This competition used to be known as the Innovative Teacher's Forum. There are amazing prizes up for grabs for successful teachers, the most valued being a week long trip to participate in the Pan African and Middle East Finals in Morroco, and/or a week long trip to participate in the World Finals in Greece, for successful teachers. This year SchoolNet is running an online support course from  a wiki (http://partnersinlearningforum-sa) to prepare teachers. We are also running, alongside this, a webinar and podcast programme of past winners sharing their successes.

Past finalists and winners group 1

These three past finalists and winners shared their projects in the same webinar

Lyneth Crighton from Brescia House in Johannesburg
Lyneth Crighton is from Brescia College in Johannesburg. She ran a workshop in which Grade 10 learners explored the novel “Cry the beloved Country” using Web 2.0 collaborative tools. The girls collaborated on a wiki, participated in an online discussion forum, created a pod-cast and developed a word cloud. Colleagues across learning areas got involved in the workshop to show that the themes in the novel were applicable to a range of learning areas.
Lyneth was a winner in the South African Finals, and they went on to represent South Africa at the Middle East and Africa Finals in Jordan. She won again and were able to participate in the World Finals in Washington DC.

Louise Clark from St Cyprians in Cape Town
Louise Clarke and Kim Jackson are both Grade 4 teachers at St Cyprian's School in Cape Town. Their combined project for Grade four learners involved reading the first chapter of book called ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ and predicting what adventures the main character would have in “The Lands Beyond”. Learners produced artwork and scripts describing what they thought would take place and they then narrated their predictions using Windows Movie Maker. This project only used free software – and its true success was in the way it promoted collaboration and creativity amongst young learners. Louse and Kim were winners in the South African Finals, and they went on to represent South Africa at the Middle East and Africa Finals in Jordan. They won again and were able to participate in the World Finals in Washington DC.

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Natalie Meerholtz from Holy Rosary in Johannesburg
Natalie Meerholz is from Holy Rosary School in Johannesburg. Natalie and her Grade 6 learners aimed to encourage the school and surrounding community to address the issue of e-waste. Activities included creating e-posters and e-advertisements; reusing e-waste in the form of sculptures; and holding an e-waste launch. An e-waste bin has been set up to encourage responsible e-waste disposal and recycling. Natalie 
was a winner in the South African Finals, and she went on to represent South Africa at the Middle East and Africa Finals in Jordan. She achieved a winning place and was able to participate in the World Finals in Washington DC.

Watch and listen to their presentations

Here is a Slideshare containing the webinar presentations of the first three past finalists who shared their stories recently. These webinars were converted into YouTube videos. Slideshare now has an amazing feature where you can insert a YouTube video after a slide! Take a look!

Listen to their podcasts

Natalie Merholtz (mp3)

Louise Clarke (mp3)

Lyneth Crighton (mp3)
South African teachers - we encourage you to participate - this year could be the adventure of your life!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Quick file-sharing is so easy with Skype

Have you ever been in a situation when you are at a friend's house, you both have your laptops and you both want to share large documents that are too big for email with one another QUICKLY. Your dropbox is full and you don't have a flashdrive with you! So what do you do? One of the quickest solutions is to try file-sharing with Skype. I discovered this recently when I was in just that predicament. File-sharing with Skype is so quick and easy that I am DEFINITELY going to make a lot more use of it.

Here are the steps.