Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Microsoft tools #3 – Use Windows Live Movie Maker to make movies in the classroom

Submitted by Fiona Beal
If you think that creating a video with your photos is too complicated then you haven’t tried Windows Movie Maker! The only downside of this amazing webtool is that it may be too simple for advanced users! It really is very usable with great results. 

Join the Microsoft Educator's Network
This tool could be free on your laptop. If not it can be downloaded free of charge from the Microsoft Educator's Network. We encourage you to join this amazing network with all its free resources and offerings 

What can you do with Windows Live Movie Maker?
It really is very simple to use like most of the Microsoft tools. Not only can you include your best photo shots and some of your clips, but you can also add some really nice video and transition effects. Your movie will look quite professional at the end I can assure you!


Here is an infomercial from Microsoft about the software.

How to get started with Windows Live Movie Maker
If you look at the image above you’ll see that there is a place that says ‘Add videos and photos’. After you do this the media clips appear on the timelineon the right hand side. After that you add as many effects as you like. You can also add titles and credits to your movie.

How to use Movie Maker in the classroom

1. Include using Movie maker in your current theme
It really is fun when you include Movie Maker in your theme as the students love working with it.  These two Grade 4 teachers from St Cyprians in Cape Town based their theme on their Grade 4 novel, ‘Tolbooth’ and used Movie Maker extensively. They won the Innovative Teacher competition in South Africa as well as in the Pan Africa and the Middle East finals in Jordan and took their Movie Maker project to Washington DC for the World Finals in early November 2011.


2. Create infomercials
High School Life Science students in Cape Town used Windows Movie Maker to create an infomercial about HIV Aids.


3. Make a movie the final presentation requirement in a project
These high School History learners from Durban created movies about Apartheid using Windows Movie Maker. (The image below is from the created movie). 


More classroom ideas

  • A very quick movie about something that has just happened – an outing or an event
  • Expression of an assignment instead of writing it out. This definitely reduces the  riskof plagiarism
  • Make book trailers instead of book reports
  • Make movies about their book as was done by the Grade 4s
  • Movies about Maths or other concepts
  • Movies about the year at school
  • Movies of their future dreamsin the job market
  • Combine Movie Maker with Songsmith to create a music backing
  • The learners can write instructions for something they are making i.e. a recipe, how to knit, how to make a card. etc.

What about starting a movie channel for your class?
You can create your own movie channel in YouTube or in School Tube to store all your class’s movies.

Windows Movie maker tutorial
If you need more detailed instructions on creating a movie with Windows Movie Maker just go to YouTube and ask for a tutorial on how to use Movie Maker.  You will find a big selection. The on below was created in 2009 but it is still relevant and easy to follow.

Why not give Movie Maker a try today?

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Microsoft Tools #2; Photostory 3 for Windows is a great free classroom tool

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Photostories are digital stories shown in a sequence of photographs. You can write on the photographs, narrate what is happening, add music and effects and turn the whole digital story into a movie.  It is a fantastic programme and can be used in a multitude of ways from Grade 1 – Adult! Microsoft has a marvelous free tool called Photostory 3 for Windows that is very useful to use in a technology-integrated classroom.

If Photostory 3 is not already part of your Windows package you can join the Microsoft Educator's Network and download it for free.  We recommend that you join this amazing network which has an incredible supply of free resources and tutorials. 

Getting started with Photostory 3
Before you get started plan what you want to do.
  • What will you call your photostory?
  • What photos will you use and where will you find them?
  • Do you want to add narration?
  • Will you use music?
Put everything you want to use in a folder. 

Step-by-step instruction on how to use Photostory 3
Let's started with a step-by-step tutorial 

Ideas for classroom uses of Photostory 3
Here is a collection of ideas on how to use Photostory 3 in the classroom. Perhaps you can add to these ideas?
Classroom uses for Photostory 3 for Windows

View more PowerPoint from fionabeal

One of the great things about using Photostory 3 is that it can easily be uploaded to a blog without going through YouTube or a similar hosting programme. This is a photostory of a blogging project I did with a combined Grade 4/5 class at school. This illustrates how you can write on photos,  add interleaves and add upload it to a blog.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Microsoft Tools #1: Explore the magic of Microsoft's SongSmith

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Microsoft's SongSmith is such a fun free tool to use in the classroom. If you join Microsoft's Microsoft Educator Network as an educator you can download and install this programme for free. It is really worth it! I have found that it mainly works best from a laptop - I haven't tried it on a tablet as yet. 

SongSmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Basically, you choose a musical style and beat from their options, sing into your PC’s microphone, and SongSmith cleverly creates backing music for you. That song can be saved and shared with students, friends and family, posted online, or even used to create your own music videos. I used to use it as a reward session for those students who had completed their required tasks, and it was always a big hit!

Introducing SongSmith

This is one of my favourite videos about Microsoft SongSmith. I find the story a bit cumbersome at times but the video definitely highlights the essence of the programme.

How do you use SongSmith?

Here is a tutorial on how to use SongSmith from the UK Partners in Learning YouTube channel.


This is my version of how to install and use SongSmith.

Microsoft's SongSmith and how to use it
View more presentations from fionabeal.

Classroom uses of SongSmith

I have been collecting ideas on how to use SongSmith in the classroom. Here are a few of them.Maybe you have some other ideas to contribute?
Classroom uses of SongSmith
View more presentations from fionabeal.

I am sure you'll find this Microsoft free tool very engaging and very useful especially if you are a teacher. Why not give it a try?

Friday, 25 April 2014

Awesome World Book Day post by @apeters522 ’The Birthday Bard is Back…and this time he’s 450 years old!’

imageThis is another guest post from Anthony Peters @apeters522 who is an innovative English teacher from Parklands College in Cape Town. In previous posts Anthony shared his very successful Shakespeare QR code Scavenger Hunt Assessment activity done with Grade 9 students, as well as Awesome Aurasma - teaching the different forms of humour to a Grade 9 class using Aurasma and 'Vivacious Visual Literacy!' An innovative assessment task for Grade 9 Visual Literacy. Today’s post features his innovative celebration of World Book Day , which is now commonly affiliated with William Shakespeare's birthday. Thank you for your great sharing Anthony and Parklands College!

Parklands College educators and learners celebrated William’s brilliance this week for World Book Day by participating in a host of exciting activities designed to show us all why the bard was, and still is, the marvel of masterpieces at the ‘well-seasoned’ age of 450!

Preparing for World Book Day
In preparation for World Book Day and in honour of Shakespeare himself, all learners from grades 8 and 9 had to produce a digital book review that analysed the plot, characters, themes and idyllic readership of their favourite reads. The learners were allowed free rein over any app or media-editing software and as usual, they came up with some spectacular results! iMovie, Morfo, GarageBand, iCanAnimate- were just a few of the apps used to enhance the book review quality and ‘bring to life’ literature through the learners’ evidently ‘unlimited’ imagination! Finally, the digital book reviews were shared on the school’s internal television network for all to see!

Digital book review examples
In preparation for World Book Day (and William Shakespeare's 450th birthday) the learners were encouraged to create a digital book review based on their favourite read! Here is Tina Hadjoidakis’s review.

This is Mia Browne’s review.

Shakespeare - a comedy genius with a wicked sense of humour!
Shakespeare had the reputation as being a flawless poet, writer and actor, not to mention him also possessing a vocabulary unmatched by most. With his evolved sense of humour and ‘suggested’ impatience with those he deemed inferior; he was noted as having the most natural aptitude for insulting people! For instance, ‘Thou art as fat as butter!’ and ‘I came here for a battle of wits, but I see that you have arrived unarmed!’ These are just two of an extensive repertoire that William could conjure swiftly and effortlessly. Therefore, we used QR Codes to successfully blend the old with the new and many of these insults (as well as notable quotes from various plays) were converted into codes that were hidden around the school for the learners to scan, read and enjoy!

1 2

3 “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit” 

Despite the obvious comedic value of this, the learners were also being indirectly shown that Shakespeare is not simply an old and largely incomprehensible deceased man, but a comedy genius with a wicked sense of humour!

The Shakespeare Safari...
During break times at Parklands, there was also the much-anticipated Shakespeare Safari. This involved a number of very talented and well-read thespians taking to the stage and acting out famous scenes from various works including: Hamlet, Much a Do About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet. These short sketches were performed at different locations around the school and were well attended by the academically absorbent populace!

4 5
6 7

Guess the characters?
If that was not enough…there is more! Despite this being a wonderful day of celebrating William’s wonderful works, World Book Day was recognised by a not-so-small battalion of Grade 12 learners and educators. These enthusiastic individuals spent the whole day dressed as either their favourite author or character and it was the job of the rest of the school to work out who they were supposed to be and thus spark interesting conversations! Can you guess the characters of the bizarrely attired individuals below?

8 9
10 Can you guess the characters of the bizarrely attired individuals shown here?

SchoolNet says: What a great way to celebrate World Book Day as well as Shakespeare’s birthday all at once! We love hearing about the learning that takes place at Parklands College. Thank you to Anthony Peters and the creative English Department at Parklands College in Cape Town for sharing this great post with us.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

What’s new in the Microsoft Educator Network?

Have you noticed the recent change of name of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Network to the Microsoft Educator Network? (the URL is still change took place on April 15th 2014.  This post serves to emphasize some of the changes? But before we do so – have you joined the Microsoft Educator Network? There are amazing resources and great opportunities for professional development and opportunities to connect to teachers all over the world. In a nutshell on the the Microsoft Educator network, amongst a myriad of other benefits, you can:

During the redesign of professional development Microsoft worked with educators to get their input and feedback on the user experience. This included one-on-one interviews, having them use wire-frame prototypes and group feedback sessions.  Here are some of the changes you will notice.

1. New name

As mentioned the name of Partners in Learning Network has changed to the Microsoft Educator Network.  


2. Professional Development Courses Page
This is a new page on the site designed to present Microsoft’s seminars and courses in context to each other so that educators can determine which courses they want to explore in more depth. This menu opens to: 
Here is a screenshot of the Courses page.


3. New features in Professional Development

My Learning Page
imageThe new My Learning page associated with each course keeps track of an educator’s course status (what’s been taken, what’s left to be taken, a link to the transcript of what’s been taken and the button to generate the course certificate if they have completed the course). In the case below, you are seeing the course status for someone who completed the Teaching with Technology self-assessment and has a personalized learning path.

Certificate generator
When an educator has fully completed a course, a button will appear on the page enabling them to generate a PDF certificate that they can download and print. The certificate can be printed in the languages the course if offered in.



4. Upgrades to the Teaching with Technology page
Microsoft Certified Exam 
There is a new page that tells those who are interested in taking the MCE how they can get vouchers. In addition, they can download the Teaching With Technology Study Guide.


Teaching with Technology 
This page also has several new statuses it reports to users to reduce some of the confusion users have when they are waiting for their assessment results to come back from the learning management system. There are number of these that are contextualized based on their situation.

5. New seminar: Windows 8 in the Classroom

Windows 8 in the Classroom takes all the Windows 8 videos and puts them in one place and enables users to earn a badge for watching them.


6. New badge for 21st Century Learning Design
Users can now earn a 21st Century Learning Design badge.  Soon, we will be able to take 21st Century Learning Design courses on the Educator Network and earn a badge and certificate just like the other courses.


In the near future we will see the introduction of the localized Teaching with Technology (full course) and Teaching with Technology Basics (short course).  

This is a great array of well thought-out changes! Why not visit the Microsoft Educator Network right now and see these changes for yourself? 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

SchoolNet Webinar on Thurs 24 April 3:30pm ‘Create interactive images using ThingLink’

Are you looking for an exciting way to curate information that you find on the Internet? Thinglink is a wonderful way to link important information to different points in images you have chosen. We are pleased to announce that we will be holding a SchoolNet webinar about Thinglink on Thursday afternoon 24 April at 3.30pm. Our presenter is Linda Foulkes from Elkanah House. We would love you to join us. (Details below)

To get an idea of how Thinglink works, take a look at the following two links and see how they have been made interactive using Thinglink.

Webinar details

Title: Create interactive images using Thinglink
Presenter: Linda Foulkes from Elkanah House
Summary: Linda says “Thinglink is a great tool that offers a web platform and mobile app for creating and sharing interactive images. With Thinglink teachers or students add content inside any image - including photos, video and audio players, web links, polls, text and more. These appear in the image when shared and viewed. Thinglink can be used for a wide variety of purposes in Education for teaching and learning. Its design is flexible and easy to use for all levels of technology integration thus providing a differentiated learning experience. It all starts with an image, which is then defined through multimedia, then packed full of content. This presentation will demonstrate how:
a) one would create a Thinglink and where can one draw content come from?
b) you would use the free tagging tool to give photos new life with sound, voice, video, social, and photo based quizzes
c) create student accounts from a list of names
d) using channels to organize your Thinglink classroom
e) using the Thinglink App
f) Thinglink resources
Date and time : Thursday 24 April 2014: 3:30pm (15 - 20 minutes)
Time Zone: (GMT+02:00) Pretoria
To join the meeting:

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before or if you haven’t attended an Adobe Connect meeting for a while you might need to install a free add-in. To investigate this, test your connection:

SchoolNet South Africa provides a short, free webinar every Thursday afternoon during the school term.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Have you tried using Diigo for bookmarking websites? It’s a must!

image  image

Submitted by Fiona Beal
What do you do when you find a good article on the Internet and you want to keep a record of it it later use? The best way is to ‘bookmark’ it quickly and simply. Bookmarking is an online process. So the question becomes ‘How do you bookmark sites when you are surfing the Internet?’ 

There are so many superb ways to do this ‘bookmarking’ but one of my favourite bookmarking sites is Diigo ( because of all the amazing options that it offers.  A really great thing about using Diigo to bookmark a site is that once you have bookmarked it (and it takes about one or two seconds to do this), it will be available on all the devices that you use simply because it is done online.

How to use Diigo
As soon as you click on the little blue Diigo icon a window opens and from there you stay simple and simply 'save' and give it a name or category when the save button opens up;  or you can go further and use some of the useful options such as seen on the image on the right..
I found a really good YouTube Diigo video tutorial on 'How to use Diigo' by David Knapp (6 minutes in length) and I have embedded it below.  It elaborates really well on the following:
  • how to sign up for
  • how to create tags to categorize the websites you save so you can easily search for it later i.e. Science, Maths, reading etc
  • how to add the Diigo bookmarklet to your browser menu bar for easy capturing
  • how to add your bookmark to a list
  • how to also save your bookmark to a ‘group’
  • how to add a Diigo extension to Chrome for easy bookmarking
  • how to annotate  a website while you are reading it
  • how to add a sticky note to a website
  • how to easily navigate to the sites you have saved
  • how to share lists with others
Take a look at the tutorial  here:

Classroom use for Diigo
Diigo is a useful tool to introduce to your students if you are a teacher. Apart from simply saving a website they find online they can study the content online using the various options of annotating, highlighting, creating sticky notes etc.

Watch how this second grade teacher uses Diigo with her class! The video is called ‘Diigo how to homework for 2nd grade’.

There’s so much more you can do with this amazing bookmarking site – but this is a good beginning. Really, you must give this site a try. Whatever device you use, knowing how to bookmark using Diigo is a must for productive Internet surfing!

Further reading 
PLN Challenge #7: Using Diigo as part of your PLN

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Submit your media to AYV Awards Program–before 18 April


18th April is the closing date
There are only 4 more days for educators in South Africa to submit youth-produced media to the Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards. All media must be submitted online through the Adobe Youth Voices Awards site -

Who can enter
Please help to spread the word to educators in your countries - the competition is open to all.  If the educators are part of your official AYV network program, please be sure they login with the account they created as part of the iEARN AYV network (they would have registered using the grantee code: iearn).  If they are not part of your iEARN/AYV training program, they can still submit work on behalf of their students, but would do so by registering as a new user without the code.
Please note that the submission guidelines can be found at

What to enter
  • For Videos: You may choose ONE method of submitting your project:
  • Raw Files: Files must be MP4 following the Adobe Youth Voices program video encoding requirements (Video Encoding requirements to be attached.)
  • Youtube link – If you do not have a raw file but have uploaded your work to Youtube, you may enter the link as a submission.
  • Vimeo link- If you do not have a raw file but have uploaded your work to Vimeo, you may enter the link as a submission.
  • For Photographs or Still images: Files must be JPEG
  • For Graphic Design: Files must be JPEG
  • A brief (100 word) artistic statement must be submitted. This statement should be about the work, explaining why it was made, who the intended audience is, how it was exhibited, and any other pertinent information.
  • A photograph and biography of the youth media maker(s) must be submitted in order to complete the submission process. (Please Note: Photos and biography will be used on the Adobe Youth Voices Awards website if submission is chosen. If there is more than one youth media maker involved, please submit individual photos.)
  • Videos that are not in English must have English subtitles.
  • All videos must have a total minimum running time of 1 minute and a total maximum running time of 10 minutes, including title and end credits.

Categories for submissions

These include:
-Music Video
-Digital Print
-Photo Essay
-Poster Campaign
NOTE: All materials used in the production of the Adobe Youth Voices Awards projects (music, photos, video, etc) must be original, copyright free, or used with permission of the creator of the work.

Friday, 11 April 2014

'Vivacious Visual Literacy!' An innovative assessment task for Grade 9 Visual Literacy by @apeters522

imageThis is another lovely guest post from Anthony Peters @apeters522 who is an innovative English teacher from Parklands College in Cape Town. In previous posts Anthony shared two exciting activities Shakespeare QR code Scavenger Hunt Assessment and 'Awesome Aurasma - teaching the different forms of humour to a Grade 9 class’ In this latest post below he shares on assessing Visual Literacy using 'Mission Impossible' and an ever-enthusiastic school staff! Thank you for your great sharing Anthony and Parklands College!

"In an attempt to liven up the often mundane and monotonous visual literacy, the English Department at Parklands College threw something new into the mix! 

Typically, GET learners are expected to be able to recognize a plethora of different angles and shots (e.g. ‘Low angle long shot’). Learners are then expected to ascertain the ‘hidden meaning’ behind such shot and angle choices and how they affect the perception of the viewer.

Visual Literacy

In order to ‘spice up’ this potentially tedious language area, I created our very own ‘Mission Impossible’ fictitious scenario using iMovie and a myriad of bizarre photos. This consisted of our Head of Department, Sue Smid, being kidnapped by another English educator, Jess Hugo! In order to guarantee the safe return of our ‘borrowed boss’, the learners had to correctly identify both the angle and shot of the various photos that they were presented with. This iMovie video was accompanied by a remix of Mission Impossible to add to the exciting (and amusing) context!"

Here is the video:

SchoolNet says: Thank you to Anthony Peters and the creative English Department at Parklands College in Cape Town for sharing this great post with us.

SchoolNet Webinar recording from Thurs 10 April 3:30pm ‘Fantastic resources available for teachers on the Partners in Learning Network' by Megan Rademeyer



On Thursday afternoon 10 April 2014 at 3.30pm we held a SchoolNet webinar entitled ‘Fantastic resources available for teachers on the Partners in Learning Network' prsented by Megan Rademeyer from SchoolNet.

The webinar description
The Partners in Learning Network ( is a great platform for teachers to stay in touch with trends in education; to get ideas for lessons that use technology; and to complete free online courses. In this webinar we will talk about how you can use the Partners in Learning Network to:
  • download great tools including Autocollage, Photostory, Microsoft Maths and Photosynth and we will show examples of how some of these tools have been used to enhance lessons
  • get ideas and lesson plans from learning activities developed by winners at the Microsoft in Education Global Forum and how you can share your own Learning Activity
  • complete online professional development courses such as the “Teaching with Technology” course.
It is free to join the Partners in Learning Network and all of the tools, resources and professional development on offer through this platform are free too. If you are not already a member of the Partners in Learning Network, please sign up before the webinar so that you will be able to follow along. Joining takes just minutes if you already have a Microsoft, Gmail, Yahoo or Facebook account. Go to to get started.

The Presentation
This presentation has been uploaded to the SchoolNet SlideShare account and it can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.

The Webinar Recording
The webinar recording can be listened to on the following link:

SchoolNet South Africa provides a short, free webinar on most Thursday afternoons during the school term.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

SchoolNet and Dainfern College presents an EdTechTeam South Africa Summit featuring Google for Education in Johannesburg in July

Submitted by Fiona Beal
We are pleased to announce that SchoolNet, Dainfern College and the amazing EdTech team from the USA are hosting a South Africa Summit featuring Google for Education in Johannesburg at Dainfern College on July 3rd and 4th 2014. We are really thrilled about this after the enormous success experienced at the first Google Summit in Africa which we hosted with Parklands College and the EdTechteam in Cape Town in 2013. We are also offering pre-summit workshops for a limited number of delegates – see

DSC_7900 DSC_7832

What is a Summit featuring Google in Education?
This is a very popular, high intensity two-day event that focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google Tools to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education. These not-to-be missed Summits are held all over the world . The EdTechTeam South Africa Summit featuring Google for Education brings together world-class educational technology leaders.  All presenters are Google Certified Teachers, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers, Google Employees, or teachers with local success stories!  Take a look at the website for the South African summit at . (More will be added to the conference website in the coming days so check back often for more information. )

Register before June 2nd for the early bird rate 
Take a look at for the current rates for the Summit.  We invite you to register ASAP to send teachers, administrators, tech directors, library media specialists, tech support staff, CTOs, and anyone who is interested in finding out more about leveraging Google Apps for Education to support student learning. The closing date for early bird registrations is June 2nd

Pre-conference Summit
This is a one-day workshop held prior to the event with its own separate pricing. It takes place on July 2, 2014 (8:30 AM - 3:30 PM). Please see the workshops on offer at

Join us at Dainfern College on July 3rd and 4th 
We would love you to join us at this event and also make it known to your education contacts.  

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Get your students thinking critically and interpreting datasets with TuvaLabs – have you tried using it?

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Have you seen this Data Literacy Skills site called TuvaLabs It really is worth exploring. I thought I would giveTuvaLabs a quick review in this blogpost outlining how I experienced it.  

TuvaLabs is a site that contains all kinds of data from 'reliable' sources, and the goal at TuvaLabs is to help students develop their data literacy skills, enable them to be critical thinkers and persistent problem solvers, and empower them to become active members in their own communities and global citizens of the world.


As I opened TavaLabs Beta, knowing nothing about it, it looked quite interesting ‘Data Literacy skills for a brighter future. Empower your students to think critically about data, ask meaningful questions and communicate their observations and questions.’ Isn't that something we need and want for our students?

Navigating the site 
One of the co-founders of the site is Harshil Parikh and I must say that after I joined and enrolled a class he has been excellent with follow up emails and offers of help with getting started. The design is kept very simple – the menu bar only has three options (Find resources, Explore datasets, Ask) and one has to scroll down and pick up other little bits of information.

What is on the site?
The site contains interesting data sets with some ways of interpreting them using graphs, activities, and a place to ask questions
a) Types of activities: Challenge and project
b) Grades: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
c) Topics: Community, social, energy, entertainment, global

Hashil sends data update emails constantly informing us of new data sets. The following are screenshots of  lead-ins of new data sets:


An alarming recent data set
Tuvalabs recently added a dataset which had some alarming statistics ‘The Dark side of Chocolate’ noting the sad use of child labour in this industry. 


Contributors to the site

a) Dataset contributors
b) A community of teachers who share activities, lessons and projects they've created for exploring, analysing, and visualizing datasets around topics they are covering in the classroom. These resources can fit into the classroom at any level, from 15 minute sessions all the way up to month long projects.

Finding resources on the site
There is a well set out, simple diagram showing the process with finding resources and a link to an introductory video. Users can:

a) Choose datasets related to one's curriculum topics or catering to student interests

b) Find an activity or create one's own around the dataset and assign it to one's class

c) Evaluate one's students' work and provide feedback on their datablogs
  • At my last count there were 71 datasets in four subjects - Science, Social Studies, Global Studies, Health. All are attractively set out with an appealing draw card image.
  • There were 86 activities created by teachers – some public and some private. (I recognise some names. Some have written quite a few activities.)
The resources are beautifully set out visually. I took a look at the one that says ‘The rise of mobile phones in South Africa’ On the page that opens out there is a short introduction and three headings – Raw data (in this case provided by the World Bank), Activities (none yet) and New Activity (for someone to add) With the raw data there are nine options for creating different types of graphs. One has to sign in for anything further.

Joining up
I joined up. You have to join a class. I joined a Grade 8 class for Science and will let them explore this term. (Once you are in the site you are taken to some resources for 8th Grade Science. ) I immediately received an informative email from Hashil.  

I rather like this site. Interpreting data is a very important skill in this day and age. I’ll definitely pursue it with a class. I also like the idea of teacher-contributed activities and data sets from relevant sources. Those are not easy to find.  Communities of Practice provide great opportunities for learning.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Using PowerPoint creatively to teach an activity on adjectives and descriptive writing to a Grade 3 class

Mrs Truett's Third Grade
Submitted by Fiona Beal
Earlier this term,
whist researching on the Internet, I cam across two posts on adjectives that fascinated me. The first was a post in a Grade 3 blog (Mrs Truter's Third Grade) showing two photos of an activity on Adjectives (see one of the photos on the right). The second post was a video on the use of adjectives in descriptive writing found at  This gave me the idea of doing something similar to both of these posts with a Grade 3 class and including technology (see photos below).  The students enjoyed the activity so much that I decided to write a blog post about it.

Lesson idea
The Grade 3 students find at least 20 positive adjectives relating to themselves. They present these creatively using PowerPoint where the skills of font choice, font size and colour are emphasised, They discover how adjectives used in writing make writing come alive and write a descriptive paragraph about themselves using as many of the adjectives as they can.   

Step 1: Create a template for the students to use
I figured this could be created on two A4-size pieces of paper joined together with a piece cut out for the head. I created the template idea for the students to copy in PowerPoint.

Slide1 Slide2
Download the adjectives template as a PDF

Step 2: Explore adjectives with the class and how they can be used in descriptive writing
The next step was to talk about the importance of adjectives in writing.  We revised the meaning of adjectives. I read the class a very plain paragraph that had no descriptive words and asked them to draw a quick picture using a drawing programme they were familiar with (in this case Paint). All the pictures were different. Then I read the same paragraph but this time with lovely descriptive adjectives and asked them to draw the picture. This time the pictures were very similar because the adjectives had led a much clearer image being imagined.

Step 3: Brainstorm positive adjectives that can be used to describe other students in the class. 
We now had a brainstorming session on adjectives that could describe others in the class. The instruction was that the class should use only positive words but that no names should be mentioned.  As the students called out words I typed them out and displayed them on the screen via the data projector. These were left on the screen as prompts for words during the remainder of the activity.


Step 4: The students think of 20 adjectives to describe themselves and fill them in on the provided template
Since the school I volunteer at uses Windows computers we used PowerPoint for this lesson. However Keynote on an iPad or a Google Presentation on an Android tablet would have done the trick as well.

Step 5: The templates are completed and printed
As far as technology skills are concerned this was a good way of working creatively with font types, font size, colour and font position. As far as using adjectives is concerned the students enjoyed thinking of positive words about themselves.

Step 6: Print the templates, cut out the head space, glue the two pages together and draw hair using regular crayons
Here is a photo of some of the final results of this activity.

three boys

Step 7: Create a description of oneself using the selected adjectivesIn the next lesson this part of the lesson would be tackled. The students will use the adjectives to write a descriptive piece about themselves.