Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Class Hack contest and the Hack the Classroom Event are coming up...join in

Here is some exciting news from Microsoft:

1. Did you know that the Class Hack Contest is Back?
During the September 24th Hack the Classroom event, in 2016 Microsoft showcased Sway as a fun and easy tool for sharing content. To carry the momentum forward, Microsoft is running a competition to see who can develop the best lesson that includes the use of Sway as a creative method for delivering content to students. Closing date is 7th June. Find out more on the Microsoft Educator Community The winners will be announced live on June 27 during our live Hack the Classroom online event.

Find out more about Sway 
Sway is a free presentation web app - part of the Microsoft Office family of products. It is also available as a iOS app. All you have to do to get started is go to this RL and join up by creating a Microsoft ID. Then just explore! If you have Office 265 you'll find that Sway is included. Sway allows one to combine text and media to create an online presentation with a difference! You can pull content locally from your device, or from Internet sources such as Bing, OneDrive, YouTube, Facebook etc. One can add videos, text, images, sound…you name it. Before you know it you have a lovely presentation that you can enter into the Hack is back competition mentioned above. If you want to know more about Sway you can do a free course on the Microsoft Educator Community...and earn a badge at the same time. Find out more at:

2. Did you know that the Hack the Classroom event is back!


Hack the Classroom is an exciting, online, live event designed to show you what’s possible and ignite new ideas. This year, the event will be live from ISTE bringing you the latest tools designed to empower your students to create the world of tomorrow!

Live: Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Live from ISTE: Empowering the students of today to create the world of tomorrow.

By attending Hack the Classroom online event, you will:
  • Hear Lisa Floyd, educator and thought-leader in STEAM education with Fair Chance Learning share why computational thinking is for everyone in our opening keynote
  • Learn from teachers by taking a glimpse into their classrooms to see how new tools are creating new possibilities
  • Engage, interact, and pose questions with speakers, product team members, and other educators
  • Gain access to professional development resources and tools to get started
Register here:

Great news! Claim your SACE Continuing Professional Development Points for badges you’ve earned on the Microsoft Educator Community

Submitted by Megan RademeyerAll South African teachers are expected to keep a Professional Development Portfolio (PDP) as a personal record of their professional development journeys and to achieve at least 150 South African Council of Educator Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) development points every three-year cycle.

SchoolNet SA is an approved SACE professional development provider and has been accredited by SACE to award continuing professional development points for certain activities and online courses that teachers have completed through the Microsoft Educator Community.

If you have earned any of the following badges on the Microsoft Educator Community – please complete this form by 15 June 2017 so that we can email you a PDF of your SACE endorsed certificate indicating which online courses you have completed. You will then be able to count these points as “Type 3 – Externally Initiated Professional Development Activities”.

· Teaching with Technology – Basics (5 SACE points)
· Microsoft in Education (5 SACE points)
· Microsoft in the Classroom (15 SACE points)
· 21st Century Learning Design (15 points)
· Teaching with Technology 2016 (15 SACE points)
· Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert – 2016 – 2017 (10 SACE points)

Top tips!
Make sure that your profile on the Microsoft Educator Community is set to “Public” so that we will be able to verify what badges you have earned. If we can’t see your badge, we won’t be able to issue you with a SACE endorsed certificate.

How to make your Microsoft Educator Community profile public:
· Log in to the Microsoft Educator Community.
· Left click on your profile picture.
· Click on “Edit Profile”.
· Select “Public” for your profile status (see indicated in red)


You will also be required to email us a link to your Public Profile so that we can verify which badges you have earned.

To find your “Public Profile URL” go into your profile and look under basic information. (see indicated in green)

Frequently asked questions:

Can I get SACE professional develoment points for other badges I have earned on the Microsoft Educator Community?
Yes. Whilst SchoolNet SA can only issue you with a SACE endorsed certificate for some badges, you can count your other badges as “Type 1 - Teacher Initiated Professional Development Activities” and can log these in your Professional Development Portfolio.

Will I get a hard-copy certificate?
No. We will email you a PDF of your SACE endorsed certificate which we suggest you save in your electronic Professional Development Portfolio. You are welcome to print this certificate out yourself if you want a hard copy certificate for your records.

What if I earn more badges after I have filled in the online form?
Please complete this online form by 15 June 2017 so that we can send you a PDF certificate indicating all the badges you have earned. If you earn more badges after you have filled in the form, please fill in the form again and we will send you a second certificate.

What happens if I want to claim my SACE points after the 15th of June 2017?
This form will remain active until 30 June 2017 – after that be on the look-out for a link to a new form if we are able to offer this service again.

I don’t know my SACE number. Can I still claim my CTPD points?
If you don’t know your SACE number – you can access it through the SACE website. If that doesn’t work please complete the rest of our online form and you will still receive a pdf certificate that you can use later as part of your Professional Development Portfolio.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Teachers - want to attend free Minecraft: Education Edition training? Note these opportunities in Joburg (31st May) and Cape Town (2nd June)

If you teach in the Johannesburg or Cape Town area, Microsoft and Computers4Kids are excited to invite you to a free, hands-on experience of Minecraft: Education Edition. Minecraft: Education Edition is already transforming classroom learning all over the world and these hands-on experiences will give you a taste of what this is all about.

What is Minecraft: Education Edition?
Minecraft: Education Edition (M:EE) is a version of the popular open world game, Minecraft, specifically designed for education. It contains features that make Minecraft more accessible and effective in a classroom setting. It immerses students in a virtual landscape that fosters collaboration, stimulates problem solving, and inspires creativity while exploring subjects from art to maths, history to science.

Who is the presenter at these sessions?
The guest speaker and trainer will be Stephen Reid from Immersive Minds. Stephen is based in the United Kingdom and is a creative producer with a passion for merging ICT with education, art and culture. He is a games-based learning pioneer, bringing a wealth of off-the-shelf games to the forefront of educational thinking. Stephen is a Minecraft teacher, running a Minecraft server dedicated to teachers and parents all over the world and running lessons with children and Minecraft in curriculum learning. We are excited to have Stephen join us in South Africa for the launch of Minecraft: Education Edition and share his expertise.

Where are the workshops being held?
Microsoft and Computer4Kids are offering a workshop in Johannesburg on Wednesday 31st May and one in Cape Town on 2nd June 2017. Here are the details:

1) Johannesburg (Wednesday 31st May)
Brescia House School (Church Parkade parking area)
14 Sloane St

Time: 14:00 - 16:30

Arrival and registration
Introduction to Minecraft and 21st century teaching and learning
Experience Minecraft hands-on!
Launch of Minecraft Education: Competition!
Networking and refreshments

Note: only 50 places are available.

2) Cape Town (Friday 2nd June 2017)
Christel House School
Swallowcliffe Drive
Cape Town

Time: 14:00 - 16:30

Arrival and registration
Introduction to Minecraft and 21st century teaching and learning
Experience Minecraft hands-on!
Launch of Minecraft Education: Competition!
Networking and refreshments

Note: only 50 places are available

How can I book for one of these workshops?
RSVP here:

How can I find out more about using Minecraft: Education Edition?
Find about local Minecraft Training and CAPS aligned Minecraft content information and training by contacting Computers4Kids. Take a look at their brochures here:


What are teachers saying about Minecraft?
Hear what educators are saying about using Minecraft: Education Edition to transform classroom learning.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Useful Google in Education links this week #101

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers link to previous posts can be found here

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #103

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at . The link to the back-dated posts is: 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

‘From teacher to certified Minecraft: Education Edition trainer in South Africa’ – a guest post featuring Dominique Cave

This is a guest post featuring Dominique Cave (@dominiquecave), the only Minecraft Certified

Educator currently in South Africa. Dominique is a teacher with 23 years of classroom experience, teaching students from pre-school age to Year 13. Her experience has been largely in international schools – she has worked in the UK, Swaziland, Malaysia, Dubai and Kenya. Most recently she was Director of ICT at Hillcrest International schools in Nairobi. Since giving up full time teaching, she has been working for Computers 4 Kids, creating learning materials for Minecraft: Education Edition. Computer 4 Kids has been working on this for the past 8 months, learning how best to use this wonderful tool to support learning in South African classrooms. Dominique has also been lucky enough to travel to Dubai to train with Neal Manegold and Meenoo Rami of the Minecraft: Education Edition team, and she is now a Certified Minecraft Trainer. Why not invite Dominique to conduct a training session on using Minecraft: Education Edition at your school?

If you want to know anything about using Minecraft in your classroom in South Africa, Dominique Cave is the person to approach. She is a teacher with 23 years of international and local classroom experience teaching students from pre-school age to Year 13. If you had told her, when she started teaching, that she would become the first (and currently, the only) Minecraft Certified Educator in South Africa, she wouldn’t have believed you!

Dominique's Minecraft: Education Edition certifications

Learning about Minecraft: Education Edition
Dominique learned about Minecraft Education Edition through Computers 4 Kids when they asked her to investigate whether she could create some lessons based on the product. She then had to learn how to play Minecraft and experiment with the new versions as Microsoft started to release Minecraft: Education Edition. It wasn’t until she got her 10 year old daughter on board, that she really learned how it all works. Her ten year-old spends hours watching YouTube videos to learn new things, and shares her learning with her mum! "Most classroom teachers don’t have time for researching to that extent. This is why it is so important to have a product like Computers 4 Kids Minecraft lessons where the research work has been done and worlds have been set up ready for teachers to use in their classrooms. We provide ‘Skills Cards’ with all the necessary Minecraft Skills in ‘bite sized’ chunks. These are linked to lessons so that everything a teacher needs to know for a particular lesson is available,” says Dominique. 

Minecraft In the Classroom workshop about to happen!

The importance of using technology to integrate subjects in education
Dominique believe education is about more than teaching facts;  it is about learning how to learn. Technology in our classrooms really helps us to have access to tools which can help in this quest for new skills and a culture of lifelong learning. She comments: “I also think that education should be integrated. By that I mean that individual ‘subjects’ should be interconnected and cross-disciplinary studies should be what we strive for.” Technology, and using a tool like Minecraft: Education Edition can facilitate this kind of learning.

Girls at Hillcrest International School playing Minecraft: Education Edition

Minecraft training in Dubai earlier in 2017
When asked about her recent training experience in Dubai concerning Minecraft: Education Edition Dominque explained: “Jethro MacDonald (Computers 4 Kids Business Development Manager) and myself were invited to attend the Minecraft Education Edition Partner training at Microsoft Headquarters in Dubai. Megan Rademeyer (Schoolnet) and Elsabe Hart (Microsoft Schools Ambassador in Cape Town) were also present. The four of us were given training to become Microsoft Education Edition Certified Trainers. I am also currently the only Minecraft Certified Educator in South Africa. This is something which we will hopefully change over the course of the next couple of months by training more teachers to use Minecraft Education Edition in their classrooms. We were lucky enough to be trained by Neal Manegold and Meenoo Rami who are the two senior members of the Minecraft Education Edition team."

Microsoft Head Office in Dubai

Dominique showing her training colleagues how to place blocks using the Fill
command in Minecraft: Education Edition at Microsoft in Dubai.

Why should teachers use Minecraft in their classrooms?
Dominique believes that one reason teachers should use Minecraft Education Edition in their classrooms because it provides an opportunity for their students to learn through play. “As a preschool teacher I learned the value of ‘playing’ particularly role-play for young children, but I think this is a valuable method for children of all ages to learn new things. The fact that Minecraft has been developed to mimic some of nature’s ‘rules’ (things like gravity work in Minecraft) means that this becomes a valuable simulation environment.”

For further ideas on why you should use Minecraft: Education Edition in your classroom.see our SchoolNet blog post entitled: 'Introducing Minecraft: Education Edition – what it is and why you should think about using it in your classroom'. 

Link to post:

How to get started with Minecraft: Education Edition
Minecraft: Education Edition was officially launched in South Africa earlier this year. The best way to get Minecraft: Education Edition for your school is via Office 365. What makes Education Edition great for teachers is that it utilizes Office 365 to assign Minecraft accounts to students – making it a cost effective way for schools to access the game, and in a way that provides a safe, closed environment in which to play. After getting Minecraft: Education Edition via Office 365 for your school, and exploring the lessons on the Minecraft website, the next step is to get other teachers in your school to start using Minecraft. Dominique suggests: “You could get Computers 4 Kids to run Minecraft training sessions to help get your teachers excited about using Minecraft. The Computers 4 Kids Minecraft lessons are also a great place to get started, giving your teachers ideas which are already linked to the CAPs curriculum."

Stephen Reid and the Microsoft ‘Team’ at the Cape Town launch
of Minecraft Education Edition.

Can Minecraft be used in conjunction with other Microsoft Apps?
Minecraft works well with some of the other Microsoft Apps. Dominique says, “I’m loving Office Mix as a way for students to record their Minecraft: Education Edition game  play and turn it into the basis for a project. Similarly, students could make a Sway about a topic and include a video of themselves moving around in a Minecraft world, or a series of stills to which they have added speech bubbles to create a comic book effect.”

A coding connection introduced in Minecraft
After her extensive background in teaching at International schools in many countries Dominique says: "I think that in South Africa we are lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of technology in our curriculum. We have no requirement to teach students about computer technology and computer science. In the UK National Curriculum, Computing is compulsory and all students now leave school with at least a basic idea of how computers work and the basics of computational thinking. This is something I would like to see us really pushing in South Africa."  Using Minecraft can start closing that gap in coding knowledge. Minecraft: Education Edition now includes Coding Connection which links up Minecraft to Scratch (which is an online beginning programming platform). Students can write code in Scratch which will cause their ‘Agent’ in Minecraft to execute the statements. "This is going to be my favourite thing to do in Minecraft!"says Dominique.

What next?
Think about entering into the world of your learners and introducing Minecraft: Education Edition into their space at school. In South Africa the best way to get Minecraft: Education Edition for your class is for your school to sign up by registering for Office 365 for Education  (which is free) and then buying Minecraft: Education Edition from a Microsoft Authorised Education Partners (AEP). These are current partners who can assist you:

Partner Name
Contact Person
Computers 4 Kids
Russell Pengelly
Mitchell Struwig
ITech Solutions
Daryl Duncan
Onsite IT
Clayton Campbell
Roelof de Bruyn
Brian Carl Brown
Dial a Nerd
Warren Morton

Technical requirements for Minecraft: Education Edition:
Operating System: Windows 10 or macOS
Identity: Office 365 Education account for each player. This is free for schools and your Authorised Education Partner can assist you getting this set up.
Network: Internet access required for login and multiplayer

Further reading:

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Do you know about Free Office with 1TB space for your learners in South Africa - from Microsoft and 2Enable

In a webinar this week presented by MIEExpert and Microsoft Ambassador, Ronelle Klinck, ( we heard about the partnership offer from Microsoft amd 2Enable in SA and their unbelievable free gift to all South African learners. They have called this offer Mahala.

What is Mahala?
Microsoft South Africa and 2Enable are partnering up to offer all South African school learners (ages 8 – 25 years) free access to Microsoft Office across all your devices as well as 1TB of OneDrive. It is obtained through signing up at

Free Office Apps
Learners can share their schoolwork and collaborate on all devices and platforms with familiar applications and always-accessible files that update in real time. YES they can use all the apps they know and love across all their favourite devices. They can get Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and Excel and use them on their PC or MAC, Mobile Phone or Tablet. How is that!


Free OneDrive
This includes free OneDrive and the free 1TB allows enough FREE space to store 200,000 songs, 17,000 hours of music, 250 movies or 310,000 photos. It is huge!

Ready to help your learners create their FREE accounts? Then head over to where you can read all about it and help your learners fill in the forms. (If a learner is under 18 years old they need an adult to help them fill in the form).

Friday, 12 May 2017

Useful Google in Education posts this week #100

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers    (The link to previous posts can be found here

SchoolNet webinar recording and presentation link 'A Roadmap for Teacher Professional Development' by Ronelle Klinck

On Thursday afternoon 
11 May at 3:30pm we held a free SchoolNet webinar entitled We are 'A Roadmap for Teacher Professional Development' Our speaker was Ronelle Klinck, a MIEExpert from Johannesburg and a Teacher Ambassador with Microsoft South Africa. Ronelle has always been passionate about developing teachers and helping them work toward reaching their goals.She gave us some pointers for teacher professional development as noted in the webinar description below.

Webinar description

Ronelle described her webinar topic as follows: "I have always been passionate about supporting teachers in their personal professional development journey. Jessica Piper, in an online article introduces the topic of PD by stating 'A professional development session can leave a teacher feeling knowledgeable and excited, or feel like the session was a waste of their time'. The article allowed me to reflect upon my own PD as well as supporting others in their journey. In this webinar, I will share ideas and best practice on how to curate a professional development portfolio and tips to ensure that professional development sessions are designed meaningfully."

The downloadable webinar presentation
Here is the downloadable presentation from the webinar available online in SlideShare:

The webinar recording

How to Trim and Clip an online YouTube video using YouTube Editor

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Today I had the problem of uploading a video that had sound problems to YouTube. There had been some loss of Internet connectivity during the recording of the video and I wanted to delete those blank spaces from the video. Normally I would have used Windows Live Movie Maker  but Windows 10 no longer supports Windows Live Movie Maker (oh how I miss that program). I decided to try uploading the problematic video to YouTube first and then use the YouTube video editor to attempt tp trim and clip the video in its online form. It worked! I thought I would record the process.

What is YouTube Video Editor?
My first step was to look at what YouTube help says at YouTube Video Editor is YouTube's collection of online tools that enables one to edit your uploaded video in a number of ways:
  • Combine multiple videos and images you've uploaded to create a new video.
  • Trim your clips to custom lengths.
  • Clip out pieces that you don't want.
  • Add music to your video from a library of approved tracks.
  • Customize clips with special tools and effects
  • Publish the new video to YouTube and choose its viewing preferences.
All of your uploads, while you are doing this, are added automatically to the Video Editor where you can make them private until your task is complete. The Video Editor tool at isn't currently able to publish videos that are longer than one hour. You can still use the Enhancements or Audio tools to process longer videos.

How to get started
My task was listed in the things the editor can do. I wanted to Clip out unwanted blank spaces and Trim the video. You can get to the Video Editor  at if your video is already uploaded. Mine wasn't yet uploaded so here are the steps:

Log in to your YouTube account
Sign into your Google account and go to YouTube After logging in I clicked on the upward facing arrow icon in the top right hand corner, and uploaded the video as normal. Here is an image of the icon:
I set the video to private for now so that any subscribers wouldn’t be notified that a new video had been uploaded. In this step I added all the required information about the video.

Edit the Video

1. Open Creator Studio
I clicked on the my name in the right hand corner and selected Creator Studio which is found right underneath my name. This opened a new section with information on the left hand side. On the left side under "Video Manager," I clicked on Videos and selected the video I wanted to edit.

2. Select Edit/Enhancements
Under the video the Edit button was evident. I selected Enhancements. The two enhancements I was interested in were Split and Trim.

3. Work with Trim.
I decided to use Trim first when Enhancements opened, as I needed to cut a piece off the end of the video to shorten it. To do this I clicked on Trim and selected where I wanted to stop the video.

4. Working with Split.
When you click on Trim, the word Split appears at the very bottom under the image of the video breakdown. In this view I wanted to cut out any places where we lost sound.
a) To do this click on the actual video footage at the bottom at the actual place where you want to stop.
b) Select Split and a blue bar appears.
c) Continue to the place where you want to restart the sound again and click Split once more.
d) You’ll notice in the image below the trimmed section on the bottom right and the two split sections with a cross and the word Delete next to it. Select the cross where the word Delete appears and the section is trimmed. If you check this now by playing the video just before the split part, the video jumps over that part seamlessly as though it didn't exist, and it continues.

e) This is what the video in edit mode looked like after the final trimming and splitting (see below). Notice all the greyed-out gaps representing the trimming and clipping. The next step is to click on the word Done. 

f) After clicking Done I am taken to a view where you can see a preview and the original in case you want to revert to the original and start again after watching the preview.

Save as a new video
If you are satisfied with the job done, you can now move to the section on the right of the video and click on Save as a new video. If you want to you can just click Save and the video will replace the previous version. Because I felt unsure I decided to click on Save as a new video. After I saved this video as a new video I immediately set it to private so that no subscribers would be notified while the video is being processed. Incidentally, this processing takes a while.

Where did I learn how to do all this?
I watched a great tutorial from Derral Eves called ‘How To Trim Slice and Edit Your YouTube Videos’. I have embedded it below.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #102

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at The link to the back-dated posts is:

SchoolNet free webinar 'A Roadmap for Teacher Professional Development' by Ronelle Klinck on Thurs 11th May at 3:30pm

We are pleased to announce that our next free webinar, 'A Roadmap for Teacher Professional Development' will be held on Thursday 11 May at 3:30pm. Our speaker will be Ronelle Klinck, a MIEExpert from Johannesburg and a Teacher Ambassador with Microsoft South Africa.  Ronelle has always been passionate about developing teachers and helping them work toward reaching their goals. “I would like to encourage teachers to see beyond limitations such as a lack of Internet connectivity or learners who do not have their own devices. Teachers are the most dynamic group of people and often use limited resources to achieve amazing outcomes.” Ronelle will be giving us some pointers for teacher professional development as noted in the webinar summary below.

Webinar details

Webinar title: A Roadmap for Teacher Professional Development
Summary: Ronelle says: "I have always been passionate about supporting teachers in their personal professional development journey. Jessica Piper, in an online article introduces the topic of PD by stating “A professional development session can leave a teacher feeling knowledgeable and excited, or feel like the session was a waste of their time”. The article allowed me to reflect upon my own PD as well as supporting others in their journey. In this webinar, I will share ideas and best practice on how to curate a professional development portfolio and tips to ensure that professional development sessions are designed meaningfully."
Date: Thursday 11th May, 3:30 - 4pm
Duration: 15-20 minutes
Presenter: Ronelle Klinck, Teacher Ambassador, Microsoft South Africa Johannesburg
Host: Fiona Beal
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:

Saturday, 6 May 2017

'Sharing our Stories: Finding your People – how the #ZAedu hashtag was born!' A guest post from Monique Franzen

This is a guest post from Monique Franzen @moniquefranzsen.  Monique is the Junior Primary IT Specialist at Bridge House in the Western Cape. She is also a Google Certified Educator and Trainer, and a Microsoft Innovative Educator. Monique has her own technology blog called Teacher Squeaks. After the recent EdtechTeam Google In Education Summit at Parklands in Cape Town, Monqiue created the hashtag #ZAedu as a place where South African teachers can gather on Twitter and share their stories. This post describes her journey to creating the hashtag. South African educators, let's all starting using the #ZAedu hashtag when we post our stories on Twitter to keep in contact with each other...

Moniqiue says: 
I'm going to steal my opening of this blog from the amazing Keynote speech I was lucky enough to attend on Wednesday:

Once upon a time there was a little girl called Monique.

This opening is important, because my theme today is about sharing our stories. It gets a little personal in this post today, ladies and gents.

The theme of storytelling resonated through Lindsay Wesner's Keynote at the EdTechTeam Cape Town Summit. She told us to be brave, even if we didn't feel like were brave. She shared her own story and the stories told by her students. She encouraged us to share our teaching journeys on social media and to prove to other educators that great, revolutionary education could be possible here in South Africa.

Lindsay rocking the main stage at the EdTechTeam Cape Town Summit

After the summit was over, I was at a braai with some other teachers who had also attended. My friend, Barbara, and I were wrapping our heads around the idea of sharing our stories - we wanted to find a platform for local teachers to do that. Earlier that day, Barbara had presented a session on using G Suite for Primary Maths and we had been in a conversation with the people attending, sharing hashtags like #gafe4littles and #primaryrocks where they could find more activities like the one Barbara had been demonstrating. We were giving them direct links to social media in order to connect and engage with other educators.

Then it hit me. We needed a hashtag. South African teachers needed a hashtag to rally around, to have a place to share their story and to promote good, local practice. After the braai I did some searching and found out two things:

1) #SAedu was already used, albeit infrequently, by South Australian educators
2) I also found out that back in my early, experimental days of Twitter I had started a list of SA teachers on Twitter. It was called ZA Edu. I checked the hashtag and found that #ZAedu was essentially unused.

And so #ZAedu was born.

I will be the first one to admit that Twitter didn't grab me in the beginning. I remember saying that Tweeting felt like standing on a box and shouting at a room of people who were having their own conversations. Sometimes it still feels a bit like that to me. In terms of building up a PLN (personal learning network), though, it is absolutely invaluable. The brevity of Twitter, which frustrates me, means that you have to be succinct to get your idea across. Over time I have come to see the value of Twitter more and more, as it allows instant connection with your peers. That is the magical part.

I never really enjoyed school as a child. I found it difficult to connect with other children. My mum kept me going with my very own mantra, that one day I would go to university and then I would find my people. I was the first person in my family to go to university, and I did indeed find my people. Through finding those peers, those people who thought and strived for the same things I did, I also found myself.

The same thing happened to me this week when I attended the Cape Town summit. Even though I was nervous and had to be brave every time I spoke to someone, I felt at home. My crazy ideas were not crazy! Instead of looking at me blankly, they validated my opinion, or, even better, asked a question. I had found my people. Twitter and social media is an irreplaceable way for us to find our people online, too, and hashtags are a great way to filter through the spaghetti tangle that is the internet.

And so Monique found her people.

I hope that we can use #ZAedu as a digital space to share authentic, enthusiastic teaching in South Africa. I know that is happening in other classrooms because I had the privilege to attend the summit. Not all of our SA teachers can go to a summit, so this can be our way of connecting. I want to see what is happening in SA classrooms on that hashtag. I want you to share your bright ideas and madcap methods. Show me the amazing work that your students and colleagues are doing. Sharing these moments with other educators will give them inspiration to be that force of change in their own environments.

As a wise woman once said... we are those that can shape the narrative of education in South Africa.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Get started with Lesson planning in Minecraft:Education Edition

This is the fifth post in a series of posts about using Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom. (The series of posts can be accessed at: In this post we take a look at lesson planning using Minecraft: Education Edition and we explore where to find ready-made lessons as well as how to create your own lessons using Minecraft: Education Edition.

There is a lot of buzz about using Minecraft in the classroom at the moment. Teachers have been experimenting with different ways to use it in the classroom for some time now, and they have found that Minecraft: Education Edition is a great vehicle for learning in their classrooms. But, the two big questions that most teachers ask are:
  • How does one go about finding already-created lessons on using Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom? 
  • How does one create a lesson from scratch using Minecraft: Education Edition? 
Here are a few guidelines to follow:

How to find already-created feely-shared lessons on the Minecraft website
There are a whole bunch of ready-made, freely-shared lesson plans waiting for you on the official Minecraft website On this website one can find lessons spanning primary, intermediate, and secondary school for use with your students. There are featured lessons:

There is also a section on the website where you can search for lessons for the age group and subject that you teach.

These are all beautifully presented and easy to follow. I had a search for Maths for Ages 6-7 and came up with quite few options to investigate.\

Ideas for creating lessons from Mark Grundel in his article ‘Lesson Creation in Minecraft: Education Edition’.

Mark Grundel provides the following pointers to lesson planning

Mark suggests using a blank sheet of paper or graphc organizer for this. In this stage you decide on the skills you would like the learners to work on, and think about a back story narrative for the lesson. One would also decide on game elements to be included.
  • World Setup: There are several worlds in Minecraft – which one would be best for your purposes? 
  • Decide between Creative and survival mode. (On the website you can see Mark’s geocaching lesson example and how he has created it.) 
  • He suggests that one makes use of potions to quickly build.
  • He adds that one should determine one’s world spawn point.
  • After that set your inventory. Mark determined that he wanted all players entering my game to start with some items, which they could never loose. Minecraft Education Edition has a unique feature of a fixed inventory, which all players will start with upon entering the world.
Narratives Using NPCs (Non Player Characters)
After the planning stage the next step would be to create the back story narrative. Minecraft Education Edition has a unique offering of using Non-Player Characters as shown below to give the back story and the directions:

Build Your World

The next step is to build your world. Mark says: “This is the really fun part. As the teacher and game designer you can determine what you want your students to accomplish. Where do you want them to go? Will there be false clues. You are only limited by your creativity.”

Ways to use Minecraft in your classroom
Albeit using already-created Minecraft lessons in your classroom or creating your own lessons, there are a ton of ideas available. In his Edutopia article ‘Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom’ Andrew Smith here are a couple:

Make History Come Alive
There are many already-created three-dimensional replica structures available in Minecraft Education Edition, such as the Roman Colosseum or the Globe Theatre in London. You can import these into your created game for the learners to explore.

Add a Tool for Writing

Minecraft: Education Edition can be used to tell stories with characters, locations, choices, motivations, and plots. Learners can write and create stories based on their character within Minecraft: Education Edition.

Aid Visualization and Reading Comprehension
Learners can demonstrate their reading comprehension by creating a visualization. They can reconstruct various settings from a text, and even re-create scenes and plot events.

Address Problem Solving and Other Math Principles
Teachers can use Minecraft to build skills needed for Maths competency.

Further reading
  • Take a look at: Petoskey's ‘Bringing Minecraft into the classroom’ to read about Nikky Willison’s third-grade classroom on a particular Wednesday morning.creating zoos in Minecraft. On this day there were about a dozen zoos in the process of construction as students worked in pairs to create the ideal habitats for a wide array of animals through the use of Minecraft: Education Edition

Why not enter the May 2017 Global Virtual Classroom Mini Web Design Contest for K-12 Classes using Google sites...hurry!

Submitted by Fiona Beal
I have participated, with a class, in the full 12 month Global Virtual Classroom web design contest in the past and it was a really great collaborative experience using Google Sites. The good news is that they have introduced a much shorter 10 week option, known as the Global Virtual Classroom Mini, that takes place during the year. The following information about this is taken from the Global Virtual Conference wiki

Registration for the May contest is about to close
Applications for the May Contest are still open…if you hurry! The registration form is available at

What is the MINI GVC?
MINI GVC is the outcome of some serious thinking regarding preparedness in the context of Collaboration, Commitment, Contribution and Copyright while participating in GVC contests. After functioning as a Teacher-coordinator for GVC Contest from 2009-16 one of the participants noticed that quite often teams do not shine in collaboration which is primarily the aim and purpose of GVC - to share and care. It could be due to various valid reasons but yet we would like not to compromise on the quality and productivity of our websites.

When does the MINI GVC Contest take place?
MINI GVC is a prelude to GVC Contest in which students from various countries supervised by their Teacher Facilitators would represent their schools to create a website on a pre-decided age appropriate theme. The Mini contest is open for approximately 10 weeks during September-November, February-April and June-August. The contest is open for students from K-12 schools around the world to create a collaborative website on a topic of world interest. Groups are assigned by GVC, and may consist of anywhere from 2-4 schools.

Contributions can be text, illustrations, multimedia, recorded/textual discussions, interviews, etc all original created by the participants themselves.Copyright rules have to be strictly followed while utilizing content (text /illustrations/photos/videos etc) from another website. Attributions and Citations are a must for every post in the website.

Results shall be announced after every trimester and winners will be awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Star Certificates. Assessment will be based on Creativity/Originality, Social Responsibility, Team Spirit, Technical Skill and Copyright.

Features of MINI-GVC
Perfect for schools with time constraints. One can choose a convenient trimester.
Acquire new technical skills and improve existing talents.
Improve and acquire collaborative communication skills.
Understand and appreciate cultural differences.
One school can participate in one or more trimesters.
One school can register more than one group in a trimester.

Have Questions?
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Program Manager -

This program is a project of Give Something Back International Foundation.