Submitted by Fiona Beal
SchoolNet has been offering to its premium members short free online courses in various web applications relevant to teachers since November last year, and every now and then one has the very pleasant opportunity of meeting some of the participants face to face. This happened to me at the Apple Leadership Tour Day last term when I met three such educators from Mickelfield Primary - namely, two teachers who have done quite a few of the courses and their principal Jeanette Welgemoed (who did the Google Docs course). I was absolutely delighted when they told me of the next technology function that was happening at their school and invited me to attend!
Micklefield Primary is a small, beautiful girls' primary school situated right in the heart of Rondebosch in Cape Town. I was soon to discover that this is no ordinary school but rather one that is ALIVE with ideas and possibilities – and a school that is making great strides in showing a focus on technology integration.
The invite was to their Design Week report back to the parents. This was the culmination of doing many exciting things involving technology. In fact, two days before the event Judi Francisco, their very go-ahead and absolutely dynamic ICT integrator wrote and said: “Today we had movies being finished, a Twitter lesson for literature, filming of 5 year olds learning poetry, Grade 4s showing their themed movies, Grade 5s making vokis, Grade 2’s creating quizzes for their parents in Obami, Grade 1’s designing the front covers for their CDs of their stories and me making a movies of our webcam interviews with Grade 1 about their creative writing stories! Busy day…just 2 more to go….”
Can you wonder that I was very excited to be attending such a report back to the parents.
The teachers on the online courses
What I loved about having the Micklefield teachers on the various online courses is the way they regularly shared how they were putting into practice what they had learned on the courses in their lessons. The principal is very keen to promote technology and that is where it starts really...at the top! In a newsletter to the parents she said, “The girls are the technology leaders of the future and we should be helping to prepare them for that and the skills that they will need in the market place.”
So now to show the amazing stuff they did culminating in the Design Week report back.
During IT Design week, the Pre Primary Girls invited their Moms and Dads to bring along iPads and iPhones etc for learning and sharing sessions! I wonder who taught who! These were some of the apps they used: Mouth Off, Kaleidoscope, Swampy’s Where’s my Water, Angry Birds, Lego App4+, Drawing Carl, Paper Toss 2, Fruit Ninja, Barbie Fashionistas, Tap-a-lot, Wet Paint, Fashion Dress Up, Temple Run, Barbie “I can be”, TP-Shapes, ABC…Touch, Curious George at the zoo. What fun!
Grade R Kaleidescope
The beautiful Grade R iPad art was on display when I went to the report back to the parents. Simply gorgeous! Their teacher reports that on one of the days “We recorded our poem, ‘My teacher took my Ipod’. We had workshopped this poem in groups and each child had their own line and we opted for a call and response style…'”
Grade 1 recording stories
Their teacher said, “The Grade One girls wrote and recorded their very own stories for IT week. It all started weeks before in the classroom when we wrote our own stories. We then practiced reading them to each other and finally recorded them with Ms Whizz. After a few attempts we managed to get a clear recording using speaker microphones. Ms Whizz recorded them using sound recorder. It was very exciting!! She also interviewed us about our stories and the reason behind choosing the characters. Ms Whizz did this using webcams and a programme called Windows Live Movie Maker. We each got our own CD with all the stories on it to take home as well as a CD with all the interviews on it. This will be a wonderful keepsake for us to remember our very first stories from when we were young.” Fantastic idea!
Grade 2 Obami
This is what the Grade 2s learned about Obami:
*Learnt to log into a secure website using a password
*Added and changed profile pictures
*Made status updates
*Made positive comments on their friends status updates
*Sent messages and replied to messages
*Connected with their parents
*Wrote simple blogs
*Used class “portals” to view videos, pictures and information about their theme work
*Completed assignments/quizzes set by their teacher
*Learnt how to make their own assignments and set them for their parents
*Used the online ‘chat’ feature
What a good time they had! They have great plans for what they are still going to do in Obami this year.
Grade 3 explored with Photofunia and Wordle
The Grade 3 class explored and learnt about two different visual web-based applications on the computer, namely Photofunia and Wordle. With Photofunia they superimposed their own portrait photographs onto various backgrounds. The girls created their own visual pages. They invited all the girls’ parents to attend two computer sessions in which they taught their own parents how to create and use these applications.
With Wordle the girls created their own individual word clouds using words based on their own personal theme. Then they learnt to change the font, back-ground and orientation of the words using different colours and back-grounds. Finally they chose different picture displays and shapes that they arranged these word clouds into. The girls thoroughly enjoyed this particular application and taught their parents how to use it, some getting so excited they emailed their creations home via email and to parents away on business.
The Grade 3 girls also presented technology orals in which they shared games and ideas and also taught each other about the inventors of the iPad, apple computers and debated different branded cell phones and computers.
The report back to the parents
The report back that I attended in the evening was the Grades 4-7 report back. What I LOVED about this is they did it in the form of a show run by the girls with a huge screen. They showed every step of everything they did so you knew they had grasped the process thoroughly. It was very cleverly done with music and choreography included for effect! I loved every minute of it.
Grade 4 Garage Band
The Grade 4s used music to enhance a story or theme. They were divided into pairs and brainstormed possible story lines or themes that could be enhanced using music.
They then visited the Sound House in Observatory to record their music using software called Garage Band to create music that would convey their message. The program allowed for many different choices of sound effects, instruments and percussion. They then came back to school and used PowerPoint to put together their stories using pictures they found on the Internet. They learnt how to layer and manipulate pictures, ensuring that they remembered to use scale. They then inserted their music as a .wav to play across all slides. They also inserted animations and motion paths, added transitions and did rehearsed timings.
Grade 5 wikis
*writing on a Wiki page
*uploading pictures and sound clips
*uploading videos and widgets
You can visit their wiki and see their brilliance at: http://micklefieldgrade52012.wikispaces.com/
The Grade 6 Spoken History Online Project
This is a project involved with capturing personal history and sharing it with others, especially future generations. It focused on events or stories that shape one's history. It gave the girls the opportunity to make history ‘come alive’ and realise the importance of their heritage. The girls learnt the interview process: how to ask questions, what to ask, how to come up with a theme or topic, how to channel the interviewee’s attention, how to take notes, how to select a photograph etc. The technical skills needed to film/record an interview were taught. Tips about lighting, voice, camera position, zooming etc were promoted. Lisa Chait, well-known radio and TV presenter, producer of ‘I am Women Leap of Faith’ and project director of ‘Life Stories’, came in to teach these interviewing skills. She also shared examples from her Life Stories projects.
The footage was brought to school and the editing process began using using Windows Live Movie Maker. The final videos were uploaded on to YouTube. (Micklefieldgirls You Tube). These movies, shown on the night, were very moving and VERY inspiring.
Grade 7 Prezi / Google Fusion Tables / Twitter
The Grade 7s demonstrated their use of Prezi, Google Fusion Tables and Twitter. Prezi is a cloud-based software for exploring and sharing ideas on a virtual canvas. The girls used Prezi to give a presentation to their peers on Man’s Impact on the Environment. Each was given a different topic to present to the rest of the class using this presentation tool. Many girls felt it was a tool that will definitely help them in the future.
‘What is the origin, weight and distance travelled of goods purchased in the households of the Grade 7 class at Micklefield School? Analyse the results and report your findings.’ This was the task that was presented to the girls and to carry this out they had to collect, record, amend and categorise data using Google Fusion Tables. The results were analysed in different formats and graphs. The findings were written in a report which was then posted into an online Blog. This project was facilitated by March Turnbull, a Grade 7 Dad who is an expert in this area.
Can you Tweet? Commenting and discussing aspects of a short story in literature was done on Twitter. Mrs Peters kept the class engaged in a lively and thought provoking analysis of the story with each person being ‘heard’ through their Tweets. The girls brought in their own mobile phones, laptops or iPads for the exercise. This was really a classroom of the future!
Can you wonder that the parents cheered and clapped and were over-exuberant about what they were shown by the girls. I was quite flabbergasted to be honest. To think that this little school in the heart of Rondebosch was producing such amazing technology creations! Not too long after this the school held their very exciting iThink Conference for Foundation Phase teachers (http://www.ithinkfirst.co.za/) focusing on thinking skills and the use of Information Technology in Foundation Phase Education. I was invited to give a breakaway session on webtools. There again I saw the value of the free online courses being demonstrated and the knowledge spread and shared. For example Kathryn, the teacher who attended the Wiki course (she and her girls presented such a dazzling show of their wiki at the Report Back), presented on wikis and she in turn had an invite to go and present at another school.
I can only be very grateful to have been invited to this great Design Week report back. Thank you to Micklefield! Thank you, too, to Judi Francisco, for allowing me to use snippets from her newsletter to provide all these details.