Friday, 13 December 2013

Lesson idea #5: Make a PowerPoint brochure...

For a while now I have been collecting ideas on different ways of using PowerPoint in a classroom.  One that I didn't know about was using PowerPoint as a brochure. It works extremely well. I set about trying it out in a Grade 5 classroom.  The Grade 5s were learning about heritage sites in South Africa and were busy with a project involving a heritage trail. I set a task on creating a PowerPoint brochure illustrating a site they would love to visit. 

I gave them a template idea but they had to change it into what they would like, with their choice of fonts and headings.They really enjoyed doing all of this using PowerPoint. 

Some of the heritage sites in South Africa

The PowerPoint brochure template

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Lesson ideas #4: Use Popplet for a mindmapping task in the classroom

Have you ever considered using Popplet for mindmapping? It is a marvelous tool that is available as a webtool, as well as an Android or iPad app.  

An example of a popplet from the popplet blog
Sadly you are only allowed five free popplets..  I tried out Popplet recently with a Grade 7 class that was learning about medicine in the CAPS curriculum and set them a short 45 minute revision task using this mindmapping tool. The class absolutely loved using it. The beauty of using it was that when the class had finished their popplets they could share them with me online. The task is shown below. We used the webtool found at

Useful links

}An example of a Maths Popplet via Michele Botha from Somerset House: 

}Popplet as a webtool

}Here is a  PDF giving step by step instructions on how to make a Popplet

}This is a video tutorial on using Popplet

Why I like using Popplet
  • I love the ease with which one can start thinking visually with Popplet.
  • It has a great ability for one to add one's own text, video and images as one goes along.
  • I love the way one can incorporate links and content from around the web
  • I especially like the collaborative features that make it so easy to work with others and share one's ideas…
Why not try it for yourself!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Report back on a most enjoyable TeachMeet at Stirling Primary in East London

TM East London

TeachMeets are a fantastic opportunity for meaningful and enjoyable professional development. We, at Schoolnet, love to help schools get started on implementing a teachmeet in their area and we have designed a TeachMeet wiki to keep track on teachmeets taking place (see Two such schools are Stirling Primary and Clarendon Primary in East London who take turns in hosting a TeachMeet once per term. The two teachers who run with the preparations are Claire Dean from Stirling and Sharon Cox from Clarendon. This October TeachMeet was the 18th TeachMeet in South Africa since the introduction of the concept in October 2011. After this TeachMeet Claire Dean sent me this summary:

Claire says:
“We had an awesome TeachMeet. 19 presentation! On the teachers arrival the percussion band was playing and teachers had to design their own nametags. This was fun. We awarded a prize to the best decorated nametag ;-)

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Liesel created stickers for the water bottles, and the Keen Beans had a packet of jelly beans and a lovely pen tied to their bottles. Other prizes were e.g. windows phone, laminating machine, paper shredder, wireless mouse and mushroom speakers.

Claire Dean on the left handing out a prize

The presentations at the TeachMeet

1. Les McGregor – a report back on the SchoolNet Conference


Les talked about Baldev Singh’s opening address and some of the workshops she had attended such as Twitter Essentials in the Classroom, Using Social Media in the classroom and Raspberry Pi among other things.  Thank you Les.

2. Megan Skelley (2 presentations)

a) Typing Web (

In her first presentation Megan talked about a great, free typing application called Typing Web.
•Web-based – accessible anywhere
•Teaches correct finger placement
•Gradual progression of skills – home row, top row etc.
•Bookmarks the student’s progress
•Encourages accuracy by subtracting mistakes from student’s total words per minute (WPM)
In addition to this it uses trophies for rewards, games, and endorsed certification, But that’s not all! There is a teacher’s portal where you can enrol your classes for free. You can even see how long each student spent typing, their words per minute, the number of errors made etc.  This looks like one amazing website!


b) Integrating Science with PowerPoint – animation processes
This was a great presentation. I have tried some of Megan’s ideas in class myself and they work so well. Megan showed a great, animated  ‘Grade 3 Seasons’ use of PowerPoint as well as a Grade 4 Photosynthesis demonstration. I have tried out Megan’s Seasons presentation with a Grade 3 class and they loved it. I wrote a post about it here.  Thank you Megan.


3. Liesel Kruger (3 presentations)

a) Some Great Chrome extensions


Liesel explained the difference between apps and extensions and then demonstrated Printfriendly & PDF, Tab Cloud, Pastely, PicMonkey Extension, Chrome Speak, Turn off the lights, Popchrom, Clearly and Evernote Web Clipper. There are some there  that I don’t know – I am eager to explore!
b) Why I love Google Chrome


Liesel says she enjoyed Molly Shroeder’s presentation on Google Chrome at the Google Summit. In Liesel’s presentation she talked bout the basics, how to sign in, easy restore options, how to use the incognito window, how to manage tabs and bookmarks, and handy shortcuts.

c) Jumping into Stories
Liesel’s third presentation was on her use of Story Jumper for digital storytelling.


She explained the process of logging in, dreaming up a story and how she managed the illustrations.  I must mention here that Liesel participated in the African Storybook Project earlier this year and produced some amazing stories with her Foundation Phase students.  At the TeachMeet Liesel showed two of her stories (see the covers below). If you would like to read some of the lovely stories she submitted to the African Storybook Project take a look at Thank you Liesel!

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4, Dirk Greeff (3 presentations)

a) My Online Shrink
Dirk’s first presentation had a fascinating title.


He mentioned different types of sites for personal help such as:

b) A teacher’s website


After giving good reasons why teachers should consiuder a website,Dirk gave examples of sites one could use such as Google sites and Yola sites:

c) A virtual prizegiving

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In this presentation Dirk gave a solution to a prize-giving where not all relatives could attend. The answer is a virtual prize-giving ceremony that includes pictures, video clips and live streaming. He mentioned a couple of service providers such as: 

Thank you Dirk.

5. Smanatha Bottcher (2 presentations)

a) Samantha Bottcher from Clarendon spoke about Breathing New Life into Presentations.


Sam says she based her presentation on a presentation given by the amazing Rushton Hurley at the Google Summit in Cape Town in October. Te factors mentioned by Sam were: quick and easy, take into account visual learners, choice of fonts, slides and images.

b) Creativity and Technology


Sam says she also based this presentation on a presentation given by Rushton Hurley at the Google Summit in Cape Town in October. I have to say that I also found Rushton Hurley incredibly inspiring.


Here are some of Sam’s snippets: “Visuals grab a pupil’s attention and this very simple activity can be adjust to any level and for any subject. A class can be divided into pairs, where each pair has to find an image (or take a photo) that defines a given term. All these pictures are then uploaded into a file for all to share and view. In setting projects we place too much emphasis on finding the right answer or answers … in order to celebrate creativity we have to change the way we ask questions, they need to be more open ended with more than one possible answer. Hurley laid out some very useful guidelines on a video project. In this example the pupils were asked to produce a video of no more than 90 seconds in which they had to explain or describe something they had learnt in school that year. . After the video production Hurley put alot of emphasis on the importance of an audience for pupils’ work...blogs, website etc. Here nextvista is also a valuable alternative and they run various competitions into which projects can be entered. He felt that if a project was just for the teacher’s viewing pupils make it good enough but if their peers will be viewing it they make it good! He also recommended that free apps are used as far possible so that interested pupils can go home and use them too.”

6. Emily Fourie (2 presentations)

a) Feedback from the Google Summit in Cape Town in October


Emma related many of the interesting things she had learned at the summit such as Google Drive and Google Apps, creating quick and easy presentations, Google Chrome Store and its apps, Boomerang for email. Emma says that after attending the Google Summit she quickly changed over to using Google Chrome as her browser of choice.

b) Nearpod

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After explaining how Nearpod works Emma went on to describe the multiple featues that teachers can add to Nearpod. Thank you Emma
7. Claire Dean (3 presentations)


a) Build Innovative Schools
Claire spoke about a session by Baldev Singh that she had attended at the SchoolNet Conference


She mentioned the Innovative Schools Toolit that Baldev had mentioned and its various components. This is divided into four key sections.  Claire explained each one in detail.


b) Chrome Web Store


In her second presentation Claire spoke about the Chrome web store. She showed various templates from the template gallery and the types of publis templates. Claire then went on to talk about the Google Calendar and ways of using it. 

c) Innovative Teacher


Claire then went on to speak about Microsoft’s Innovative Teacher competition. Claire was a finalist this year. Claire focused her talk on one of the other finalists, namely Michelle van Wyk from Bloemfontein who enetered a project called ‘Insects and Life Cycles’. She spoke about Michele’s project process:
•Talking about insects.
•PowerPoint presentation on the different types of insects.
•Internet: explained how it works and looked up various insects.
•Videos on the life cycles of some of the insects.
•Cell phones: TodaysMeet chat room.
•Computer room: Encarta and looked up some insects for a writing and oral project titled: "I am an insect“.
•Test on TestMoz
•Made a word cloud using Wordle
•Video of their oral presentations using Windows Video Maker
Thank you Claire.

8. Shailey Lucas spoke on using iMovie

There isn’t a presentation for this as I think Shailey probably gave a hands on demonstration.  Here are some tweets about Shailey's presentation.





9. Mary Lou (2 presentations)
a) Create your own videos using PowerPoint


Mary Lou demonstrated how PowerPoint is a great tool for making videos. She went through the steps namely Plan, Create, Record, Save and Present. mary Lou did a demonstration where she had written out a script and created the visuals concerning the life cycle of a butterfly (see below).  This is just one other amazing use of PowerPoint!


b) Study Ladder


I haven’t personally discovered this programme on the Internet  However I see that it is an Australian online Mathematics and Literacy program for R-7. It provides year level resources that instructs students on skills via videos and gives them opportunities to reinforce those skills via online activities, games and printable worksheets. This looks really worth investigating!

Summing up
The prinicipal of Stirling Primary School, Peter Johnson, summed up the TeachMeet afterwards. I am sure that he said it was an amazing TeachMeet because that is what it looked like to me! I wasn’t present but I followed the Twitter stream using an application called Twubs, and Claire Dean kindly shared the Drobox folder with me so that I had access to the wonderful presentations.

SPS EL TeachMeet (17)

By the way, one of the things I have noticed with the East London TeachMeets is that the local businesses are extremely generous with the sponsorship of prizes. Sharon and Claire constantly had spot prizes of the donated itmes, but I like this last tweet:


There is a photo of the lucky winner...


Well done East London! A summary of the tweets for the TeachMeet can be found on Storify:

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Looking for professional development opportunities over the holidays?

image Finding time to boost your ICT skills, discuss a hot topic or enhance your CV is hard to come by during term time, but you may want to consider doing one of the free online professional development courses offered through the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network ( during the December break. Online courses include ‘Teaching with Technology’, ‘Windows in the Classroom’ and ‘21st Century Learning Design’. You can work through the courses at your own pace and at the end your achievements will be recognised through badges awarded on the Partners in Learning Network.

Consider making staying up-to-date with new trends in education one of your New Year’s Resolutions. If you haven’t yet joined the Partners in Learning Network, please do so now at to access to a range of free tools and professional development opportunities as well as a community of educators who share ideas and resources.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Why not create an infographic this holiday?

Infographics are very popular at the moment. They are visual representations of information, data or knowledge and as such they speak louder than mere words would have done to make their point. Every day I see infographics tweeted about on Twitter and I love looking through them to see what their message is about.

Favourite infographics

Steps to creating an Infographic
Before you start actually creating your infographic take note of this advice

1. Research your topic from a number of sources.
2. Decide on the purpose of your infographic. You want to convey menaing about your data collection.
3. Select your creation tool
4. Look at infographic examples for inspirtation
5. Decide on a colour scheme
6. Keep it simple.
7. Evaluate your infographic. 
8. Show your infographic and see how people respond to it.


Let’s get started creating an infographic using (  is good place to start creating an infographics. the infographic ‘Saving the world through water' featured in 'Favourite infogrpahics' above is a good example of an infographic created using is easy to master and includes easy want to share your infographics.  These two videos will help you get started.

Classroom use
Creating Infographics to present information requires students to process the information and find ways to express it visually in simple and concise ways. This requires good understanding of the topic. If they don't fully understand the information they will have difficulty completing a successful Infographic. 

Further reading
4) At ISTE 2013 I attended a very good session on making inforgrapics. The link to the presentation can be found here

Making the most of Limpopo TV White Spaces

imageFive schools in Limpopo are each being provided with internet connectivity through the TV White Spaces Initiative as well as a bank of Windows 8 Devices per school and access to the Office 365 A2 Education Plan. To ensure that this equipment and connectivity are used for anytime, anywhere learning SchoolNet SA has been appointed by Microsoft to provide training and mentorship to the teachers involved in this project. Teachers have already started with the ‘Partners in Learning ICT Skills for Teachers’ course and in the new year we look forward to offering additional courses on ‘Using Office 355 for Anywhere, Anytime Learning’, ‘Windows 8 in the Classroom’ as well as the ‘Microsoft Innovation Course’.

At SchoolNet SA we believe that for equipment and connectivity to be used most effectively it should be placed in the hands of learners. However as teachers and school leaders will be the gatekeepers of the technology, they first need to experience the possibilities of using technology for learning. We are excited to be a part of this exciting proof of concept project and look forward to helping teachers use the tablets in the classroom for productive anywhere, anytime learning. Look out for the progress that we make with this project in 2014.

If you are interested in finding out about the FREE A2 Office for Education plan  for your school visit: about Office 365 for your school – visit

Intel celebrates kids in Diepsloot West


clip_image002Intel SA recently donated 40 classmate computers with full wifi to Muzomuhle Primary School, a public sector school in Diepsloot West. The classmate computers are pre-installed with the Department of Basic Education’s interactive workbooks and a teacher console that will help with classroom management and administration. The school has a population of 1854 learners and the school decided that they would start implementation in the seven grade 3 classes.

SchoolNet SA will help the 52 teachers in their professional development pathway and will ensure that they are enabled to use technology for teaching and learning in creative ways that build 21st century skills. Technical support to ensure that the devices are always in working condition will be provided by Running Computers.

Mr John Ramarumo, the principal of Muzomuhle Primary has welcomed this initiative and hosted a meeting to advise parents and the community about the classmates programme that will see learners at the school go to high school with ICT skills and catapult learners into being avid users of technology for learning.

Intel hosted a fun day for the school to remind learners what it is to be footloose and fancy free as children in South Africa. A number of jumping castles, obstacle courses, face painters and a magician decorated the school grounds. Laughter and unadulterated happy shrieks permeated the school. Lots of fun was had by all and kids were literally dragging their feet when it time to go home.

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