Wednesday, 30 May 2012

It's time for you to create your own Blogger blog - take the challenge!

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Just the other day I was showing a group how to blog using one of my favourite sites - - when I discovered to my shock that the new interface was now mandatory. No more hiding behind what one was once comfortable with. I then decided to get to know the new interface and made screenshots as I went along. I would really like to share these with you and encourage you to make yourself a blog. A classroom blog is one of the things you can do to transform your class even if the only computer in the class is yours - your laptop!

So, take the challenge and see if my instructions will help you.

Create a blog using Blogger’s updated interface
View more PowerPoint from Fiona Beal

Once you have created your blog there will be other questions you will come up with. So the next Slideshare looks at the following questions and provides screenshots:

1.How can people join my blog?
2.How can I add a blogroll to my blog?
3.How can I edit a post I have just written
4.How can I change my background template?
5.How can I set up my comment box?
Well, that should keep you occupied for a while, but the end result will be something you can be proud of. If you happen to create a blog using these directions please let me know your blog address!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Wonderful Wordstash

This is a guest post from Lisa Gair who is the Technology teacher at the Rock Academy in Fish Hoek. She originally placed this post on her lovely ICT blog:, and since Lisa is a keen SchoolNetter I asked her if I could use her post on the SchoolNet blog. Thank you again Lisa!

A friend recently introduced me to Wordstash.  (The Wordstash website has changed since this blogpost was written and is now found at  It's very easy to sign up for and just as easy to use. I have introduced it to my Grades 4- 7 already and will be introducing it to our Teachers early next month. My desire is that the Teachers will bring their classes into the ICT Centre and allow them to create their lists each week, and the learners will be able to log on at home and either use the site to assist in learning or else create their own lists.

Another thing I enjoy about Wordstash is that it also automatically gives various definitions of the word, and allows you to either choose which definition you would like, or, alternatively, to add your own. In this way, the child is not just learning how to spell a word, they are also learning the definitions of each word.

One also has the choice of adding an image to the word. The site automatically sources images from either Wikipedia or Flickr for the learner to choose from.When playing, they are presented with a variety of games and ways to test their Spelling.


Another way that this site could be used is just for learning definitions. I am thinking specifically of things like in English that one needs to know for language or poetry.



Friday, 25 May 2012

Add navigation pages to your wiki and write on them!

Submitted by Fiona Beal

Last week I wrote a blogpost and challenged teachers to consider creating a wiki if they don’t already have one. My post was called  ‘Why not create a wiki for your classroom’?  A wiki is a superb calssroom tool, really. Well, if you took the challenge and created a wiki, I have some more fabulous tips for you to spruce it up a bit. 

Add navigation pages

The first thing you could so is add navigation pages on the left hand side to give it that website feel. If you would like to do that I have created a Slideshare that could assist you. It is called ‘How to add navigation pages to your wiki'. Take a look:
How to write on a wiki

Once you have done that you might find that wikis are sometimes tricky to write on. But don’t worry as I have created some information on how to write in a wiki. Let me add this an a Box.Net embed.(I love the way one can so easily upload to and then got an embed code to put the document on a wiki. 

Well, in the next wiki post that I write I’ll add some information about adding a header and some gadgets to your wiki. Really, for a teacher, a wiki is a MUST in this day and age.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Opening of the new computer lab at Ekukhanyeni School in Kwazulu-Natal

This report is given by Janet Thomson who is the Executive Director of SchoolNetSA  Today (17 May 2012) Hlengiwe and I had an uplifting experience. We attended the opening of a computer lab at Ekukhanyeni Special School for the severely mentally handicapped.


The driving force behind this project is Jonathan Michaels – a young IT entrepreneur who I met at the eThekwini Connected Schools planning meeting. He is involved in developing the Android tablet.  He has a For Profit Social Enterprise company called GiveITBack.  He managed to get SAA Airlink to fund this computer room. 


Mr Ngwenya from SAA Airlink spoke extremely well and spoke in Zulu to the children. Airlink will be funding more special schools around the country. 


The principal of the school, Mrs Mthembu, has been at EkuKhanyeni since 1988, and from the looks of most of the teachers so have they.


Here is a slideshow of all the photos.You will see from the photos that the school is extremely well cared for, the teachers are dedicated and the children are loved.  They certainly know how to celebrate in style too.  

What a well organised and happy community - a great inspiration to all of us!


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Class Dojo–a fantastic classroom motivational tool

Submitted by Fiona Beal
I have always loved creating a classroom spirit in my classes and one way of doing this is introducing plenty of motivational tools to encourage the learners. I was absolutely delighted recently when I came across this Glogster advertising two teachers' use of a classroom motivational tool called Class Dojo. This is something that would work so well in a primary school classroom. Caitlin Jones and Erin Schudde did a fantastic job of this Glogster, don't you agree? (I wish I could embed it but it is too big). 


So, inspired by this amazing presentation of Class Dojo, I decided to try it out at I think it is a fantastic innovation. As I tried it out I took screenshots of what I did so have added them here as a slideshow. Why not give Class Dojo a try and see if it works for you?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Four competitons for South African teachers and their classes

Submitted by Fiona Beal
It has come to my notice that there are a few exciting competition available for South African teachers and learners. The first one, a Skype competition is a world wide competition and could include High School classes. More information is available at The next three seem more suited to the Primary School learner and are advertised on our South African classroom site Why not take a look and get your class to participate?

1. Win your class a Skype video call with a celebrity!


Calling all teachers!

On June 6th at noon EST, your K-12 class could have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hold a Skype video call with well-known celebrities Steve Harvey, James Patterson, actors Dylan and Cole Sprouse, author Jackie Collins or musician Tinsel Korey through Skype in the classroom’s global Connected Classroom Sweepstakes! Skype in the classroom is thrilled to offer five lucky teachers the opportunity for their students to speak to these celebrities.

Starting today, here’s how you can enter on Facebook:

  • Like’ Skype in the classroom’s Facebook page
  •  Sign up for Skype in the classroom (if you are not already a registered member)
  • Describe in 150 words or less the ways they currently use or would use Skype in their classroom
  • Describe in 150 words or less the ways they currently use or would use Skype in their classroom

Closing date

Make sure to submit your entry before the sweepstakes ends on Tuesday, May 29th and check your email on Tuesday, May 29th at 2:00 P.M. EST to see if you are a winner!

More information

For more information on the Connected Classrooms Sweepstakes, please visit or the Skype in the classroom Facebook page.

1. Classroom of the future competition – for Grade 6 pupils in South Africa


Closing date

21st September 2012


Prize: A complete classroom makeover consisting of an eBeam interactive board
+ projector, + a Mecer laptop for the teacher + new modular desks and chairs for the
students. Prize includes training. Find out more: http://e-classroom

3. Cartoon network competition

The 2012 Animation Generation post competition focuses on “The Amazing World of Gumball”, the action-packed popular television show about the adventurous cat, Gumball, who has a flair for misadventure. To enter the competition, all learners need to do is draw a NEW character for “The Amazing World of Gumball”, and to incorporate their character into a colourful poster design.There are only two conditions: the learners’ work must be original (so no tracing); and as imaginative and original as possible!. Find out more here.   

4. Collect – a – can competition 


The Collect-a-can competition rewards schools for their efforts in collecting cans that can be recycled. To find out more about the competition click here

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Why not create a wiki for your classroom?

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Have you ever considered using a wiki in your class? It can be a fabulous classroom tool with a multitude of uses.

What is a wiki?

A wiki is a space on the Web where you can share work and ideas, pictures and links, videos and media — and anything else you can think of. It is like a website but it doesn't require any special knowledge of HTML. Anyone who joins the wiki can write and edit on the wiki which makes it ideal for classroom use. What I like about using a wiki is that it is free and it makes sharing and collaborating on all kinds of content as easy for your students as it is for you.

A great example

Watch how this 2nd grade teacher uses a wiki in her classroom. This is an amazing video and gives a good idea of what a wiki is as well as how it can be used: This is not a YouTube video so click on the video link below the picture to be taken to the viewing site. 

(13 minutes)

Types of wikis

It is amazing to see all the ways that wikis are used by educators. I have gathered some of the ideas together and presented them in the Slideshare.

Create your own wiki using Wikispaces

If you think you would like to give a wiki a try, I have created some instruction for you. My favourite wiki platform is Wikispaces. They give educators so many free options and have designed their wikis to be really easy to operate. This Slideshare shows you how to create a wiki using Wikispaces.

A challenge

Hopefully I have challenged you to give Wikispaces a go. Let me know if you do!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Upcoming TeachMeets in South Africa

Submitted by Fiona Beal
I am glad to report that there are quite a number of TeachMeets about to take place around South Africa. This is exciting!  If you live anywhere near these areas please do investigate. At a TeachMeet, which is a free event, teachers volunteer to share for three minutes about a successful lesson that involved technology integration. It is a great time of networking, learning, sharing and friendship.  Usually they submit a PowerPoint, a video, etc to the organiser so that they can show their lesson as they talk.
Previous TeachMeet posts

I have written quite a few TeachMeet posts on this blog in the past: 

Here is a list of the upcoming TeachMeets in the order that they will take place:
1. Somerset House in Somerset West is holding a TeachMeet on Weds 23rd May at 6pm. Read more and sign up here:

2. St Mary's in Durban is holding the first ever kwaZulu-Natal TeachMeet in Durban on Tuesday 29th May at 6pm. Read more and sign up here:

3. This is not really a TeachMeet as such but something similar happening in Durban. It is the very first meeting of edICTs (Education ICT Society) meeting. The focus will be on the “Flipped classroom’ with Neith Moore from DGHS starting the discussion by sharing about her successful flipped classroom project. Please contact to find out more.The date is Wednesday 30th May at 3:15pm

4. Elkanah House is having their next ever-popular TeachMeet followed by an iPadmeet on
Saturday 2nd June at 11am. Read more and sign up here

5. Microsoft is holding their second TeachMeet on Monday 4th June in Johannesburg. from 15:00–17:30. Contact to find out more.
The presentation template can be downloaded at:

Take a peek!

At this point I'll add the two Slideshares from the last Elkanah House TeachMeet in Cape Town to give you an idea of how it was done.

TeachMeet Photos 25feb2012
View more PowerPoint from TeachMeets @ Elkanah

And now for a challenge...

Why not take the plunge and start a TeachMeet in your area? Please take a look at the to see how to go about this. You can also place your advert there so that we know about your venture. It's a great way to network and get to know other like-minded teachers in your area.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Ten traits of the teacher I would like to be...

This is a guest post from Sean Hampton-Cole who teaches Geography to senior students at Crawford College in Lonehill, Johannesburg.  When I read this post on his blog I really liked his thoughts and asked him if I could use it on our SchoolNet blog as a guest post. I have never met Sean, but it must be great being a student in his classes.
I would consider myself a good teacher if I were able to get even most of these right…
☺ Sets up an atmosphere of trust, openness, supportiveness and collaboration where ideas and opinions can be exchanged without fear of failure or ridicule.
☺ Leads by example by being passionate about the learning experience.
☺ Inspires and nurtures innovation, creativity, critical thinking and individual expression.
☺ Possesses a general knowledge of other fields of study and incorporates this knowledge into lessons, encouraging connections between different fields of knowledge.
☺ Has an original and unique style of teaching (follows a spontaneous, intuitive and original methodology).
☺ Encourages students to learn experientially by exploring, manipulating, researching, questioning, finding connections, experimenting, thinking, and reflecting.
☺ Knows the importance of fun, humour, personal stories, relaxed / informal / open-ended instruction and games in the classroom.
☺ Makes good use of learner-centred activities in order to get them interested, thinking and innovating.
☺ Treats students with respect, integrity and care.
☺ Allows students to fail safely.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Free SchoolNet online short courses for May and June for South African educators

SchoolNet SA is always pleased to be able to announce its initiative of providing free short online courses to South African educators in technology integration. Please take note of the courses for May (Create your own wiki) and June (Get the most from Google Docs). Here are the details:

Current course -
SchoolNet's 'Create your own Wiki' free online course (May 2012)
If you are a South African teacher and would like to sign up for this free course, please click on the link below to be taken to the sign up page. You will then be sent an email directing you to the online course platform.  The course starts officially on 3 May  but it is the type of course where you can easily catch up. The course is supported by 'how to' webinars

Course content:
Week 1: How to create a wiki using Wikispaces
Week 2: Make your wiki look and work like a website
Week 3: Add writing, photos, audio and video to your wiki
Week 4: Using your wiki for online projects

Next month's free online course - Make the most of Google Docs (June 2012)

This will be a four week course for Schoolnet Premium Members offered during June and centring on the popular Google Docs and how they can be used to enhance a classroom experience. The course is supported by 'how to' webinars. 

Course content:
Week 1 (beginning May): What can you do with Google Docs?
Week 2 (beginning May): Google forms are incredible
Week 3 (beginning May): Create and share a presentation using Google Docs
Week 4 (beginning May): Tips and tricks with Google Docs

The British Council partners with Schoolnet SA, Sangari SA and Softstart to establish IT hubs in South Africa

This report is given by Janet Thomson the Executive Director of SchoolNetSA
The British Council has formed partnerships with SchoolNet South Africa, Sangari SA and Softstart to establish IT Hubs in South Africa as well as promoting a range of future projects for South African classrooms and communities. On Saturday March 31st the Zenzeleni Community Centre in Mpophomeni in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands saw the opening of the first of the British Council’s IT Hubs in Southern Africa opened by the Mayor of the Umngeni Municipality, Her Worship Honourable Mayor Mbali Myeni.


Mr Bonginkosi Ndlovu from the community welcomed all visitors, sponsors, local community members and stakeholders. Mr Chris Khoza representing members from the board of trustees of the Zenzeleni Community Centre provided the background to the development of the centre and the colourful and sometimes tragic history of the Mpophomeni community itself.


The representative from the British Council, Mr. Remo Chipatiso explained how the British Council is currently restructuring projects for schools worldwide into an all-encompassing Schools Online programme which will cover their Connected Schools programme as well as the DfID (Department for International Development) programme Global Schools Partnerships.

The provincial Department of Education was represented by Mr Phillip Dikgomo, Director of Maths Science and Technology who delivered a highly informative address outlining the array of considerations when using educational technologies in schools and communities. 

SchoolNet SA for the first time ever had funded the provision of a bank of 25 netbooks that have a greater hard drive capacity than most desktop computers. Even more remarkable is the extent of the coverage of the connectivity that has been arranged for the centre. A number of options were discarded in favour of a mesh satellite solution which provides connectivity to a staggering 5 Kilometre radius in the Mpophomeni community.
All the speakers and stakeholders present were concerned about the security of these very portable devices.
However Janet Thomson was confident that the hardware would be secure as she recounted the history of hardware at the centre since the late 1990s with only one burglary having been recorded when the community was very quick to point out that the perpetrators had been from Durban and very much from outside the community. All community members present pledged that they would protect this valuable resource that had been donated and would ensure that it produced the promised returns.
The British Council had organised a competition for the local schools to participate by designing a logo for the new IT Hub. LeAnne Ponen from the British Council awarded a prize of a digital camera to Khulekani from Mphopomeni High School for his design. The British Council has a programme for Digital Ambassadors who represent their countries at international educational events. There are two such teachers from KwaZulu-Natal, Sibongile Mshengu from Mpophomeni High School and Siyanda Msomi from Mzuvele High School in KwaMashu.

Before performing the opening of the IT Hub by cutting the ribbon on the door of the computer room, the Mayor, the Honourable Mbali Myeni delivered her address. All those present were interested to hear that she had completed a Masters degree in the study of ICT for development in the Umngeni area and was indeed very knowledgeable in the field of Information and Communication Technologies. All attendees were then invited to view the hardware in the centre. This was followed by a video presentation by Mrs Hlengiwe Mfeka of SchoolNet SA who had recently returned from a trip sponsored by the British Council to Nairobi Kenya to represent South Africa. She had been accompanied by Siyanda Msomi. Hlengiwe made instant use of the newly donated Sangari SA ibox by projecting her video of the trip onto a wall in the computer centre. The benefits of the Sangari iBox were explained by the Director for Maths Science and Technology, 
Mr Dikgomo.

clip_image020 clip_image022

The day’s proceedings were rounded off by a vote of thanks from Omashani Naidoo from SchoolNet SA who managed to thank the numerous individuals and companies who had made the launch of this hi tech facility at the Zenzeleni Community centre possible.