Thursday, 11 April 2013

Report back on the East London TeachMeet 12th March

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Submitted by Fiona Beal
Every time I attend a TeachMeet I come away feeling inspired and encouraged after experiencing the fantastic atmosphere and enthusiastic presentations delivered by teachers. I love to see the types of innovation that teachers are employing in their classrooms. On Tuesday 12th March 2013 I attended the second TeachMeet in East London. Last time it was held at Stirling Primary (organised by Claire Dean) and this time it was held at Clarendon Primary (organised by Sharon Cox). You can read the report on the first TeachMeet in East London here

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But, let me start at the beginning. I left for East London in the wee hours of the morning and arrived at 8am all set to spend the morning at Stirling Primary School. I had arranged to trail their new technology integration specialist, Mary Lou Berndt as she went about her newly-created position. This is definitely the type of job that Education Departments need to introduce at all public schools to get teachers on board with technology. At Stirling the teachers in a grade are free at the same time and Mary Lou schedules a session with them. These are lively and constructive times with the aim of improving the skills of each individual teacher while also pointing the way forward for introducing technology into the daily classroom routine. I thoroughly enjoyed every session and really admire the progressive stance taken by Stirling Primary.


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In the afternoon after school we made our way to Clarendon Primary for the TeachMeet which was to be held from 3pm – 5pm. The two organisers, Sharon and Claire opened the TeachMeet and Pam King, principal of Clarendon Primary, welcomed everyone.

Who were the presenters?





What was shared at the TeachMeet?

1) Claire Dean: Tweetchat
Claire made a start by showing everyone how to use Tweetchat (http://tweetchat.com/) to follow the Twitter hashtag #ELTeachmeet and contribute more easily. A Twitter hashtag at a TeachMeet allows people to give feedback as the event progresses and enables others to follow virually.     Tweetchat is a marvelous way to follow twitter hashtags. All it takes is a set date, a topic, and a hashtag. Then you carry on a conversation at the set time with anyone using that hashtag. At the end of this post I will add the tweet archive of the afternoon.



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2) Lorraine Richter – Aurasma app for the iPad
Aurasma is an iPad app that allows you to connect digital content with real-world objects. This is amazing! When the Aurasma app “sees” a picture you have selected and created an ‘aura’ with,  it triggers a video, an animation, a photo, a sound file or whatever you have connected to it.  This would be amazing to use on a classroom board display to make certain items come alive with more details; or you could use it on a worksheet to lead to further information. 



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Lorraine used a video by Taylor Swift to demonstrate how this works.



3) Leana Bassett – Jib Jab
Leana got us laughing hysterically with the video she showed featuring her principal, Mr Johnson and other members of the school management, using Jib Jab. In Jib Jab you can choose one of their music videos and add a photo of a character.



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STEP ONE: Open http://www.jibjab.com/Become a member – it’s cheaper! Or at least persuade someone else to pay your membership fee…
STEP TWO: Sign up – It’s easy as pie!
STEP THREE: Now sign in
STEP FOUR: Choose your format, occasion, video… whatever floats your boat!


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STEP FIVE: Choose your 'victims' wisely!
STEP SIX: To add more faces – just upload
STEP SEVEN: Edit your victims! (Removing wrinkles and double chins are at the discretion of the editor ;)
STEP EIGHT: Preview your masterpiece
STEP NINE: Now pay and download
STEP TEN: Hit the ‘forward’ button and enjoy!


4) Fiona Beal – Exciting Times ahead with Microsoft and SchoolNet
Fiona from SchoolNet showed how the Partners in Learning Network works and encouraged teachers to join the network to find really rich resources of all kinds. The current Partners in Learning Forum competition is open and teachers are encouraged to upload an activity to the PILNetwork to stand a chance of being selected as one of the 20 finalists for South Africa. 


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The second part of her talk centred around the offerings of SchoolNet which you can be regularly updated on by becoming a member (free membership). The SchoolNet Conference is taking place in July in Bloemfontein and teachers were encouraged to register on the conference page of the SchoolNet website.


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5) Fiona Beal – African Storybook Project
This is a wonderful Literacy project that is being funded by Britain and piloted in three African countries starting this year. The aim is to build up a wonderful website of stories for the Grade 1-3 children of Africa. The project is looking for stories and offers teachers a free digital storytelling and writing course starting on the 15th April.


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6) Liesel Kuger – use Google Forms for assessment
Google forms are a wonderful way of creating quizzes, surveys, polls and assessments that can make a teacher’s life much easier. The form does the work. Liesel showed how using Flubaroo with these forms for more advanced grading.  You go to Tools - Script Gallery – search for and install Flubarroo. It creates a Grades tab in your spreadsheet.



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7) Jenna Vorster – Khan Academy
Jenna spoke about using the acclaimed free Khan Academy to supplement Maths lessons in the classroom. www.khanacademy.org This can be used as a website or as an app on the Ipad. The Khan Academy can be accessed on YouTube. Jenna demonstrated a fractions video and how useful it can be in the classroom. Jenna finds the students learn better with visuals like this. You can download the videos to you computer if necessary.


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8) Sharon Cox – Class Tools
Sharon spoke about the marvelous site known as Class Tools (http://www.classtools.net/). It allows you to create free games, quizzes, activities and diagrams in seconds!  Sharon gave examples of the plagiarism checker and the mindmap and brainstorm tools on Class Tools.



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9) Sharon Cox – Todays Meet
TodaysMeet (http://todaysmeet.com/)  is a backchannel tool that helps you and your learners to connect with others in realtime. It is almost like having a private twitter account for an activity you are doing. Students can add comments and give feedback during the lesson. You can set a time limit for the information to be available. This site is great for brainstorming. Sharon demonstrated how it all works during her presentation.


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10) Rod Harris shared his Interactive Mark Book in Excel
This can save a teacher hours! He showed us how to create it and how it all works. He has aligned his markbook with the current CAPS for Intermediate Phase.



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11) Sam Botcher - Audacity
Audacity is a free audio recording and editing programme that can be downloaded free from the Internet. It is very easy to use for making audio podcasts. Sam demonstrated radio adverts for chocolate made in groups using Audacity.


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Sam added some sites where she found free sound effects.


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11) Sam Botcher – Pixntell for the iPad
Sam showing an IPad app Pixntell for creating narrated picture stories.The free version only allows five photos. She gave lovely examples using five pictures that have added effects and voice overs. These can be uploaded to YouTube if desired.  This app is great for explaining recipes. Sam gave a step by step demonstration on how user-friendly it is. The link Sam gave to an article on how to use five photos in the classroom can be found here.


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12) Mary Lou Berndt – Pinterest
Mary Lou demonstrated using Pinterest which is one of the most popular applications available currently. Teachers can use Pinterest to create different boards according to different subjects.



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13) Mary Lou Berndt – Flipped Classroom
Mary Lou spoke of the different role that is required by the teacher when using the flipped classroom approach. Teacher changes from a sage on the stage to a guide on the side. Mary Lou used a prezi to demonstrate the flipped classroom. She showed the various applications one can use for the flipped classroom.


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Mary Lou’s principal, Mr Johnson, was very impressed with this idea and sent a tweet saying:


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14) Shailey Lucas – Talking Friends app on the iPad
Shailey Lucas showing an app called Talking Friends. You can use this app to record lessons. The little creatures that you select will repeat it. This is very cute. Shailley had us giggling as we watched her demonstration of this.








15) Drik Greef – Free degrees
Drik Greef is the Chief Education Specialist of the Eastern Cape for e-Learning. He spoke about free degrees that one can do online overseas. This hasn't reached South Africa yet. These degrees are offered by the best universities in the world. Lifehacker University is a search engine that gives the list of free degrees. 
Drik gave other examples of places to find free degrees.



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16) Drik Greef – Codes for Teachers
Drik also spoke on using QR codes on worksheets. This is useful for homework. If the students scan the code on a phone they can immediately get further information relating to the task. In a Grade 1 homework worksheet they could scan and then listen to a song or say the poem for example. Drik gave some great ideas.


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Spot prizes

There were a lot of spot prizes from sponsors such as Microsoft and the local PC shop – in fact there were enough for all the presenters and quite a number of people that attended. Sharon and Claire used the Random Name Picker to select the spot prizes winners.


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Twitterstream

The Twitter hashtag  #ELTeachMeet, used for the event, was summarised using Storify if you would like to view it.
http://storify.com/fibeal/tweet-archive-for-east-london-teachmeet-on-12-03-2


Final comment

This was a superb afternoon, in fact a superb day. If you live in the East London area you won’t want to miss the next TeachMeet which will be held in September at Stirling Primary.  Watch the TeachMeet-South Africa wiki for details. Thank you for organising this wonderful professional development event, Claire and Sharon.

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