Friday, 27 September 2013

Apply to become a Microsoft Innovative Educator: Expert–closing date 30 September 2013


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To apply to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator: Expert (MIE-E) you are required to upload a Learning Activity to the Partners in Learning Network and to complete the online MIE-E form.

Step by step instructions
Below is a link to the step by step instructions for uploading your Learning Activity along with some tips and notes about the different information you are expected to provide. It is a good idea to read through all of these instructions BEFORE you start uploading your Learning Activity so that you will know what information and files you will need before you start.
https://app.box.com/s/pygjscb2bbvnwt8f6dld

Don't forget to upload your learning activity to the Partners in Learning Network (http://www.pil-network.com) by 30th September 2013. 

Have you tried Obami - an internationally recognised, award-winning, social learning management system?

This is a guest post from Ennis Jones from Obami. Obami is a local social learning management system and has won several international awards. Recently Obami digitized the Anas for teachers. Obami is free and well worth trying out in your classroom - with good local support available.

What is Obami?
Obami is an internationally recognised, award-winning, social learning management system. It is local, contextual, customisable and free.

What does Obami do?
Obami helps people to create or join learning communities. It is available on web and mobile and brings everyone within the education space together... learners, teachers and parents; as well as governing bodies, NGO's, small businesses, corporates-doing-good, and other passionate people.
By applying social media technologies to the virtual learning environment, Obami provides a powerful solution for individuals or schools to tap into or support existing learning communities. This gives everyone the opportunity to connect, create, share and learn.  Obami is free for primary and secondary schools.

General Overview
http://www.obami.com/portals/obami/about_obami

Obami supports and enhances all aspects of the teaching and learning experience. I
t provides a platform that...

- Facilitates the sharing of great educational resources
- Encourages social engagement between educators and learners
- Offers academic and personal development through assessment


Obami ensures the most appropriate experience for everyone. Schools can manage the safety, privacy and sharing settings - relevant to different ages, grades and social circles - within the context of their own school, the wider Obami community and the world-wide-web.

Obami also provides school and other learning community administrators with cyber-bully and profanity monitoring tools, ensuring that the environment is kept enjoyable for all.


Obami in Action
Content:  


Projects: 

Assessment: 

More about ObamiObami is a web and mobile based platform that allows anyone to create, manage & access digital content, share resources, create mini-websites and even undertake exams - it brings social learning into the classroom.
Because some schools have been slow to manage change and adopt new technologies, Obami accommodates requests from independent learners (individuals under and over 13 years of age) via the “Obami School”. The platform doesn’t aim to replicate Facebook but rather to focus on developing and nurturing creative skills - as a result, the learning platform has been recognised for these efforts:
Obami supports learning beyond the classroom involving peers, parents, on the street and even on the bus.
Obami features
- Obami Portals can be created by anyone. By focusing on learning by ‘doing’, portals allow for communities to be created around user generated content. Portals are easy to set up with simple “add item” and “drag & drop” functionality. 
The add item tool accommodates anything from formatted text and extended math symbols and equations, to embeddable widgets, images, RSS feeds and even entire websites. Obami automatically resizes elements to fit within a number of pre-defined page templates but also offers tools which allow for tooltips, external hyperlinks and the bespoke resizing of images. All this allows for educator facilitated, as well as self organised, learning.
- Obami has an assignments application which can be used for pop-quizzes, tests, surveys or as feedback forms, questionnaires and permissions slips. Obami recently crowd-sourced 168 NSC past papers through UCT students, across 33 different subject areas and made them Obami style ‘sit & submit’ revision papers for Matrics: http://www.obami.com/portals/Obami/NSC_past_papers/   ... They also digitised the ANAs across Grade 4/5/6 & 9 themselves:  http://www.obami.com/portals/Obami/Welcome_to_Obami/ANAs
- Obami has resource and media applications to facilitate the storage of items in the cloud (docs, spreadsheets, PDFs, audio, video...). Alongside offering free cloud hosting, it can also facilitate the embedding of widgets, YouTube videos, OER, Slideshare presentations and other web based technologies throughout the platform and within its other applications.
- Obami has a blogging application. It can be used across different subjects and organised into specific subject folders.
- Obami has powerful communication tools including a messaging system, online chat and a calendar for event tracking (which automatically sync with parental accounts so that upcoming school work, impending tests and homework is easily communicated to parents).
It is worth noting that every application on Obami allows for commenting so that discussion can be facilitated. Pages can be printed for easy reading and any page can be set as one’s homepage. This allows for easy and rapid access to one’s most used application. 
Using Obami in the classroom, support and feedback
Obami FAQs, Tutorials etc: http://www.obami.com/portals/obami/faqs
Obami prides itself on offering full site page specific helper text along with unlimited access to online support which is offered via the platform’s feedback tab (responses are usually made within 2 hours)
Summary
Obami has focused on the South African market, even though it is being increasingly adopted in the US, Europe and other African countries like Ghana, Namibia, Botswana and Kenya.
Most recent unpublicized successesObami supports the DBE and will be working together to bring quality educational resources and support the cloud
·       Obami has been asked to consult the Nigerian Government
·       Obami was selected as one of Africa’s Top 40 Start-up companies, and will be presenting at DEMO Africa in Nairobi
·       Obami has partnered with the University of Cape Town, and is part of the curricula for its Teaching with Technology moduleA
·       Obami has partnered with Creative Commons and will be delivering a digital course on licensing creative works across Africa

The Obami Team Story 
Watch the Obami Team story on YouTube
The Obami Team story...  http://www.youtube.com/user/ObamiSocialLearning

Thursday, 26 September 2013

A wonderful infographic on student workflow using Google Drive


This infographic was created by http://oakdome.com/ and I was delighted to see they give one permission to reproduce it on their own site as long as it refers back to them. Thank you! This was created specifically for iPads but it mostly relates to the use of Google Drive on any platform.

iPad Paperless Workflow for Educators

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Teachers - Ideas of what to do during the September break

This is a guest post from Digital Classroom,  which is the Vodacom portal for teachers around the country, telling teachers about the wonderful holiday opportunities that exist for this September break.  We read their excellent article on the Vodacom site and asked if we could use it for a guest post.  Thank you to Digital  Classroom
18 September 2013 – The short but welcome spring school holidays are upon us, a time to recharge the batteries and prepare for the challenges of the last term and final exams of the year.
There are a number of activities and holiday schools and programmes geared towards keeping the younger grades occupied and interested in the sciences, as well as helping the matrics prepare for the last hurdle of their school careers.
International Science Fair Regional Expo
For starters, the International Science Fair Regional Expo takes place from 25 to 28 September at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.

It is the final step in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, the only science fair for schoolchildren in South Africa, where they can exhibit their own scientific investigations. The fair is the result of regional expos held in each province through the year, the winners of which participate. Eskom Expo includes students, teachers, professional organisations and educational bodies and governments from all over Southern Africa.
In taking part, schoolchildren increase their awareness of the wonders of science and add to their knowledge and entrepreneurial possibilities, while broadening their scientific horizons, say the organisers.
Students can enter their own individual projects, or work with one other student on a two-person group project. There is a range of categories – 25 in all – from agricultural sciences through engineering: chemical, metallurgical and mining, microbiology and biochemistry, to social and psychological sciences, some of which are grade specific. But selection for the South African International Science Fair is restricted to grades six to 12.
Participants are judged and awarded gold, silver and bronze medals, and there are plenty of awards made by special interest groups. The Eskom Awards, for example, are made in:
  • Best development project;
  • Best energy project;
  • Best female project;
  • International trip to a science fair or science forum;
  • A science lab for a rural primary and secondary school; and,
  • Best energy efficiency project (energy and cost saving covered in all categories).
And some finalists are selected to participate in international science fairs in other countries; however, participation in international science fairs is strictly for selected individual participants and invited Eskom Expo officials.

Wonderful water

Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, in downtown Joburg, is holding a Wondrous Water week, from 21 to 29 September. "We celebrate the blue gold that is one of the most precious and scarce resources on the planet," says the centre. "Although less than 1 percent of all water on the planet is fresh, it is an absolute necessity to sustain all life. Join us as we take you on a journey to discover more about our liquid planet."
The programme will include interactive science experiments, starting at 10am every day. Participants will build their own steam boat and learn how steam can be used as a source of energy; build their own water rockets and see who shoots their rocket the highest. They will learn that hydrogen used in fuel cells can be used as a major source of clean energy in future, what fuel cell technology is, how it works, and how it may develop in the future – and then produce hydrogen from water to run a small hydrogen fuel cell car.
At 1pm each day, there will be an Aqua Spectacle Science Show in which the science of water will be explored further. Participants will learn more about bubbles, what holds them together and why insects can walk on water. Some of the workshops have a minimal entrance fee while others are free and are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Google in Education

Down in Cape Town, the first Google in Education South Africa Summit takes place at Parklands College on 26 and 27 September, hosted by SchoolNet SA and Google EDU Summit Team in South Africa. Targeting teachers and school administrators, it's a high-intensity event that focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google Tools to promote student learning in school and higher education. The programme features Google certified teachers, Google Apps for Education certified trainers, practising administrators, solution providers, Google engineers, and representatives from the Google education teams.
William Florance from Google is the keynote speaker, and each session will have anywhere from six to 13 breakout workshops from which to choose. They will range from "Getting Started" to "Getting Geeky", and each session will have workshops geared towards technical deployment and administrators using Google Apps for Education.
Still in Cape Town, the famed Two Oceans Aquarium in the V&A Waterfront runs a young biologist course for Grade 10s who are passionate about the marine environment and are committed to making a change. It takes place from 23 to 29 September. The children will spend four days at the aquarium, and then three days at a camp. Once they have finished the programme, they must commit to at least 30 volunteer hours at the aquarium.

Coastal clean-up

In the midst of the course, on 21 September, the aquarium will host a clean-up of Strandfontein Beach from 10am to noon, as part of International Coastal Clean-up Day, which was established in 1986 and has since grown into a global initiative. Everyone is invited to volunteer.
The clean-up is the world's largest volunteer effort to clean up waterways and the ocean. Volunteers get data cards and each item collected is recorded on these cards. Last year, 561 633 volunteers from across the globe collected 4 603 956 kilos of rubbish. The top 10 items found included paper bags at number 10, plastic drinking straws at number seven, plastic shopping bags at number four, and cigarettes and cigarette filters at number one.
The Cape Town Science Centre also has activities during the holiday. From 21 to 30 September, there will be daily hands-on workshops, among them Edutraden design and make, Robotics, 3D animation and Scratch workshops, alongside the daily science shows, camera obscura tours and general fun.
In the Living Maths 3D Animation workshop, children will learn to use Blender, an open source 3D animation software programme. They will learn how computer generated graphics are linked to maths. And in the Scratch Programming workshop, participants will learn the basics of programming with Scratch, an award-winning animated programming platform. Scratch, a project from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, lets users programme their own interactive stories, games and animations, and share their creations online.
The centre also runs Lego WeDo Robotics clubs, where teens are taught to build and programme Lego Mindstorms robots and prepare for competitions.

Exam revision

And finally, there is Spring School Exam Revision for matrics with Mindset. The school is well-placed between trial and final exams, giving pupils the help they need.
Spring School runs from 23 to 27 September on DSTV channel 319 and features live and pre-recorded exam revision lessons. Participants are able to work through past exam papers with Mindset's expert teachers or interact with them at learnxtra on Facebook and Twitter. As always, free revision notes can also be downloaded for each topic.
The classes run from 9am to 6pm, and feature videos and notes. They cover everything from maths, maths literacy and accountancy, to the sciences, the humanities, business studies and economics. A detailed programme of what is on when, isavailable.
Previous exam papers are also available from the Department of Basic Education for extra revision.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Update on this week’s Google Summit to be held at Parklands College on 26th and 27th September

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The Google in Education K-12 summit (http://za.gafesummit.com/), which is being hosted by SchoolNet and Parklands College at Parklands College in Cape Town is happening this week on 26th and 27th September! We are all very excited about this event! There are some amazing international presenters coming as part of the EdTechTeam, and coupled with our local presenters who are versed in using Google products in their classrooms, all 370 delegates are in for a treat!


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The optional Pre-Summit one day workshop is sold out!
This is an all day workshop with its own separate price that takes place the day before the Summit starts, and which is presented by the EdTech team. We are pleased to announce that this has been sold out.


This is a Bring Your Own Device Conference
If you are coming to this Summit please don’t forget to bring along your own device for all the hands on sessions. Parklands, thanks to MWEB will be providing superfast wifi for all attendees.

Twitter hashtag to follow the Summit
The hashtag for following the conference on Twitter is #gafesummit. Let’s start tweeting today! Why not let us know via Twitter if you will be attending and how you are following about it.

SponsorsWe are very grateful to our South African sponsors for this event. They are

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The US sponsors are mentioned on the Summit website and we are also extremely grateful to them.

See you there! 
We look forward to meeting you at the Sandown College of Parklands College for the Google in Education Summit.



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7 days left to complete your Microsoft Expert Educator Application! (Closing date 30/09/2013)

We are almost there! The deadline for the Microsoft Innovative Educator – Expert application is looming and don’t want you to miss out. Submit your application before the September 30th, 2013 deadline (you have 7 days!) to be considered for this exclusive programme.  

Completing and submitting your application means you’ll have an opportunity to join the Expert Educator Program and an all-expense paid trip to the Partners in Learning Global Forum 2014 in Barcelona–Spain. The Forum is where the worlds’ most innovative educators will gather March 11–14, 2014 to learn together and to be inspired.


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To work on your application, please go to:www.pil-network.com/expert
The Microsoft Expert Educator program is an exclusive, one-year program that recognizes educator visionaries around the world who use technology to create better learning and student outcomes. As an Expert Educator, you will be a global advocate, sharing your knowledge with other educators and education leaders. You will exchange best practices and learn alongside some of the most innovative educators in the world.

When you become a Microsoft Expert, you will receive:
  • A trip to join 250 other Expert Educators at the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Barcelona, Spain
  • Free Microsoft Surface RT for your school
  • Promotion of your good work through publicity and marketing
  • Professional and career development
We look forward to receiving your application. 

Calling South African teachers - apply to join our exciting, free Adobe Youth Voices Programme



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Submitted by Omashani Naidoo

If you are a teacher of students aged 13 – 19 please think about joining our Adobe Youth Voices programme with a group of students – even if you need to form a club in order to do this.  Create media with the free products and free online training from Adobe headquarters that we supply. 


All teachers and learners who meet all expectations will go into a prize draw to win great prizes and a trip to the next IEARN conference.

What is this programme all about?
Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) is about igniting young people’s creative confidence – the ability to harness creative skills to solve problems – by empowering them to find their voice and make it heard. AYV is the Adobe Foundation’s global initiative to increase creativity in education, which we believe will better equip young people to be the problem solvers, critical thinkers, and leaders of tomorrow.

At the heart of AYV is an educational methodology that provides youth 13-19 years of age with the inspiration, training and technology to create original media content on an issue they care about. Through this experience, participants hone skills of self-expression, ideation, collaboration, flexibility and persistence – the skills we believe are central to creative confidence.

AYV is brought to life through strategic partnerships with mission-aligned organizations and school districts who deliver and support AYV programming in over 50 countries. The Adobe Foundation provides funds, software, training materials, and on-going support to partner organizations who work directly with thousands of schools, community organi­zations, and educators worldwide. These educators then facilitate AYV locally - reaching 130,000 young people to date.

Who is eligible to participate
• Schools or youth organizations that serve low-income, disadvantaged middle and high school youth (ages 13–19)
• Access to or a plan to access media production equipment and resources
• Commitment of site administrator and/or information technology department to expedite the installation of donated software on site computers as soon as it is made available.

Two courses on offer
Two course sessions are held during the AYV year. For South Africa, 6 educators will participate in the September course and another 6 educators in February. Each new educator is expected to take one 8-week course.

Course One: 23 September 2013 – 18 November 2013
+1 new course for returning AYV educators on Photoshop and Digital Messaging

Course Two: 17 February 2014 – 14 April 2014turnign educators on Photoshop and Digital Messaging

What are the benefits for me as a participating educator?
In addition to learning skills in the use of Adobe Photoshop and Premier Elements, learn skills in facilitating workshops on creating media and creating social messaging, the following programme activities are also offered to participating teachers and learners.


Activity

Description
Essentials Essentials (youthvoices.adobe.com/essentials/) connects partners, their educators, and thousands more who join, in an online community where they can share ideas, access curriculum and other resources, and upload youth media works in progress to receive feedback.
Aspire Awards Aspire Awards (youthvoices.adobe.com/awards/), a global online media festival, recognizes best-in-class content and creativity from youth around the world. AYV youth are invited to submit projects for online viewing and voting and winning projects are awarded software and hardware.
Creativity Scholarships The Creativity Scholarships program supports the next generation of creative thinkers and propels the future careers of those who create. The scholarships provide financial support to youth who have participated in AYV through the network of strategic partners.
Educator Training Through the AYV training, educators enhance their teaching strategies, gain new skills and collaborate with like-minded educators and youth media experts to enable young people to express themselves using digital tools.
AYV Live! AYV Live! Showcases and celebrates the youth media created over a program year. These exhibition events also present opportunities for the youth to interact with an audience about their work.
Project Pitch Session A project pitch session is an opportunity for the youth artists to present their ideas and confirm they have a solid plan before they go into production. Often pitch sessions are organized so that AYV youth present their ideas to a group of their peers and other AYV educators for feedback.
Rough Cut Review A rough cut review allows youth to take a step back and see their work as an audience does, while receiving feedback on ways to clarify and synthesize their ideas. Similar to the pitch session, rough cut reviews are usually done as a group, where youth artists and educators review work together and provide feedback.
AYV Summit The AYV Summit brings together AYV educators, partners and youth from around the world for a bi-annual training and celebration of the program. The Summit fosters best practice sharing, cross-cultural exchanges, develops youth leadership, and celebrates best-in-class educators.
Lead Educator Program The Lead Educator program has been designed as a way for AYV to maintain fidelity by supporting the core. AYV hosts an annual Lead Educator Training where Leads are prepared to be advocates for the program by articulating the need for creative confidence in their region and the community at large.

How to apply
Send Ms Omashani Naidoo, omashani@schoolnet.org.za an email to express interest in participating in this Adobe Youth Voices collaboration project.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Thembelihle Primary School embraces Intel’s ‘Getting Started’ Training

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Submitted by Hlengiwe Mfeka

clip_image002Thembelihle Primary School is situated in KZN Midlands, Central Howick. The School Management Team bought laptops for the staff including digital data projector per classroom. The laptops are loaded with the latest software i.e. windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013. The training consists of nine educators from the Primary school and two educators from the Pre-Primary school. The first session started on a high note and with lots of enthusiasm as teachers were looking forward to use their laptops for the first time. The training consisted teachers with different levels of ICT skills from no skill to some extent of advanced users. It is always a challenge to accommodate both a no skill and advanced participants but manageable.


clip_image003The first module on 21 Century skills was equally enjoyed by all teachers (no skills and advanced users). It served as a motivation for the teachers to look forward to the next session. In that session teachers reflected on their classroom practices and identified gaps as they were studying or learning about 21st century skills. The training is being conducted in the afternoons for two and a half hours which is a big sacrifice on teachers’ part as they leave the school when it is almost dark with no complains - Their commitment is highly commendable. The teachers have completed ten modules out of fourteen (14) to date.

Every session starts with a sharing on a success story told by teachers how they had implemented or tried out what had been learnt in the training. A remarkable development and a level of confidence is displayed on individual teachers as they progress with the training. One success story or lesson shared by one of the teachers Nicky Msebele is on how she used internet search (Module 6) with her little ones for the first time which concluded with a creation of posters and creative writing of poems which they posted on the wall. She says she had never seen them so active and paying attention until the end of the lesson – That lesson motivated her to try more ways of integrating ICT in her class - http://youtu.be/I3mqQkTZuvw (Nicky explaining her lesson in a video)

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In one of the sessions conducted in August teachers were pleased to finalize their class websites while the principal of the school Ms Carol Bonwell created her school teachers’ website and she is determined to upload it and start sharing documents with her teachers there.

In the last week of schools’ closing for their ten days holidays teachers get busy with marking and schedule compilation and it is a stressful time. When the trainer arrived at the school they were all stressed having to combine all of the term’s marks per learner. However the training held at the school this week brighten their faces and brought smiles to their faces when they were introduced to Excel app which they had never used before. On the last day of the training they were assisted to create an electronic mark book where they managed to move data from their traditional mark book to an electronic one. They couldn’t believe the amount of time they spent to calculate totals for all learners – one of them said they’ve managed to do full day’s work within few minutes. This was the best session experienced because it met their immediate need at the right time – just in time learning.

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Intel Supports our Free State Principals with ICT training


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Submitted by Omashani Naidoo from SchoolNet

clip_image002Intel® SA recently sponsored training for Free State principals which included over 50 schools with a whopping total of 170 delegates from the South African Principals' Association. The South African Principal’s Association (SAPA) is an organisation that brings principals into a professional learning community where current issues facing teachers are discussed. It also provides principals with invaluable support material, collegial interaction and workshop opportunities. This Intel sponsored one day workshop was seen as an opportunity to ensure that principals were aware of the various technologies and support materials that Intel and other partners that work in the ICT sector have on offer to educators in South Africa.

clip_image004Intel’s Lenhle Khosa did a superb job as the programme director and also provided an overview of the global context and how our South African context needs to be more encompassing of Global trends. Next on the line-up was Andre Christian who highlighted why our South African classrooms need to be more engaging and exciting for learners and how this can easily be achieved through Intel’s bouquet of professional development courses. Susanna Ackermann wowed the crowd with her new gadgets and the Intel Tablets (beauties) caused quite a stir.


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The crucial element of the day was Intel’s 21st Leadership training. Unfortunately not all delegates brought their laptops however the SchoolNet training team Ms Hlengiwe Mfeka, Mr Senzo Ngcobo and Mr Randall Pienaar worked their magic and got all delegates to setup the hall in 21st century groupings (not in the typical straight rows ) and this provided opportunities for sharing devices, talking about issues and submitting feedback to the trainers.

clip_image008The Educational Leadership in the 21st Century course, although not yet localised, proved very useful to delegates and was exactly what was needed to encourage the use of ICTs in the classroom and become aware of strategies and teaching methods where ICTs can motivate and support teaching and learning activities in the most engaging ways.

clip_image010Despite the short time frame, principals were taken through the navigation of the course as well as completing activities in Module 1. Module 2 & 3 were given as self-study activities and principals were encouraged to use the provided resources to improve their skill level and ensure that their action plans were practical and implementable.

Once again we say a big thank you to Intel for their interest in improving the skills of our South African educators. 



Friday, 20 September 2013

Of blogs and blogging–a guest post from Elkanah House Senior Primary School

This is a guest post from Karen Stadler who is the ICT Integrator at Elkanah House Senior Primary in Table View. This post appeared on her excellent blog All Things ICT. I asked Karen if I could use it as a guest post because Elkanah House Senior Primary is the epitomy of blogging in the school environment. The Principal, Arthur Preston, has a blog, both ICT teachers have blogs and the different grades have blogs. It seems there is also a Library blog and a Sports blog. All the known links will be shown below! Congratulations to Elkanah House  for setting this great standard in blogging at a South African school.



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Karen reports in her post “Of Blogs and blogging…”:
“One of my goals this year was to see that each student in our school was set up with a blog and also to set each Grade up (Grades 4, 5 and 6) with a Grade blog which the teachers could share and take turns to post articles or photos to. Well, I can happily say that I have achieved these goals – and more. We even have a school library blog and a school sports blog going now!

“For the students I decided to use the KidBlog.org platform because it is safe and secure and can be controlled by the teacher. It is a great stepping stone for future blogging. For the Grade blogs, Library and sports blogs I chose WordPress.com simply because it has served me well and I have found it easy to use.

“I have to say, getting the students to blog has been a whole lot easier than getting the teachers to blog. Granted, they have more features on their blogs, which have at times, been trying for the teachers and frustration levels have been high on occasion (especially when the internet doesn’t play along and loading images takes much longer than anticipated – and you know how teachers are about their time). There have been highlights too, such as a teacher blogging via her laptop directly from camp, so the parents got the latest camp news hot off the press! The students, however, don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t worry as much about mistakes. They simply keep on trying until it works or they are satisfied with the result. We are now at the stage where the students are asking to blog, which is most encouraging! The learning curve has been a little more steep for the teachers, but we are definitely getting there. Having said this, it is difficult to keep the momentum going (my own blog is proof of this) and the teachers need reminders to blog and keep their students blogging. They seem to have difficulty in finding topics to blog about, but this will change over time and it will become more intuitive the longer they blog. I have tried to help by sending them ideas for blog posts and also links to further reading for blog posts.

Reasons for teachers to blog
"I do believe blogging can play a very important role in the classroom and this is why I encourage our teachers to blog:

  • It opens a window into a more personal aspect of your classroom life.
  • It is another way of keeping in contact with your parents.
  • It is a way of sharing information, content, links etc. with students and parents alike.
  • It could be a showcase for student work, as well as a way in which to post homework.
  • It is a method of reflecting on work done, learning that has taken place or places that have been visited etc.
  • With a blog you can share news in a paperless way!
  • Blogging encourages responses from parents, pupils and other visitors, so it is another way in which to engage in a conversation.
  • If you keep at it, it could transform your teaching and be the link to technology use in your classroom.
Reasons for students to blog

"I believe our students should blog for the following reasons:

  • It teaches them to write for a wider audience, not just their teacher.
  • They learn valuable skills such as proof reading.
  • They learn how to react to comments in an informed manner and also how to write effective comments.
  • A student blog could become an online portfolio of work done (something I am working towards).
  • Student blogging forms an integral part of digital citizenship and makes up an important part of their digital footprint.
  • It opens their worlds up, especially when they interact with other students from around the world. 
  • They have something that they can be proud of and which is accessible anywhere in the world.

"Although the blogging has come along in fits and starts so far this year, I am positive that if we stick with it and keep making the effort, the students and teachers alike will see the value in it and we will go from strength to strength.”

SchoolNet says: Thank you for letting us share your lovely article Karen.

Known blog links at Elkanah House
Here are the known links to the Elkanah House Senior Primary blogs:


Karen's lovely ICT blog 'All things ICT' (ICT Senior Primary): http://karenstadler.wordpress.com/
Arthur Preston's principals blog 'Head Thoughts':  http://headthoughts.co.za/
Juanita Oosthuizen's 'Technoboffins' (ICT Junior Primary): http://technoboffins.wordpress.com/

Monni's Art (Art Teacher) blog: https://monniart.wordpress.com/
The Fabulous Fours (Grade 4): http://elkgr4.wordpress.com/
The Fantastic Fives (Grade 5): http://elkgr5.wordpress.com/

The Senational Sixes (Grade 6): http://elkgr6.wordpress.com/


Applications for Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts close on 30 September 2013


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Submitted by Megan Rademeyer
If you have not yet uploaded your learning activity to the Partners in Learning Network and applied to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert you have until 30 September to do so. From the entries that are received from South Africa and Lesotho, teachers will be selected to attend the Global Partners in Learning Forum taking place in Barcelona, Spain in April 2014. This year we are looking for teachers who have produced a creative and engaging learning activity AND who have the willingness and passion to share their skills with others. If you think you have what it takes to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert visit the Partners in Learning Network for more information.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Download any web video as an MP3 or an MP4!



imageI discovered this Freemake video converter by accident the other day, tried it out and really, it is amazing. You can download any video in a number of different formats. Thank you Freemake! Up to now I have been using Keepvid to download YouTube videos, but this Freemake application goes further in that you install it on your computer and you can download any web video (not only YouTube videos) it seems in a number of different formats depending on what you choose.

For the example below I chose to download a YouTube video as an MP4 and also MP3 to get to grips with Freemake. Once Freemake is installed on your computer and you use it for the first time, it gives you the option for installing an audio converter where, once again, you can choose various options.

I must say that I got a bit confused with names at times…sometimes Freemake calls this video converter a YouTube Downloader, sometimes they refer to it as a MP3 Downloader and sometimes they call it a Video Converter. Whatever the name confusion – it works well!


Global STEMx Education Conference starts on Thursday 19th – all online

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The Global 2013 STEMx Education Conference is the world’s first massively open online conference for educators focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, and more. The conference is being held over the course of three days, September 19-21, 2013, and is free to attend!

What can you expect?
Steve Harragon (http:/www.stevehargadon.com) writes:
”Our first ever Global STEMx Education Conference starts this Thursday, and it's going to be AWESOME. We have 178 accepted practitioner sessions on science, technology, engineering, math, and more; as well as sixteen terrific keynotes; all starting 24 hours a day at 11am US Pacific Time Thursday. Don't miss out--all sessions are free, and all are being recorded as well for free viewing indefinitely afterwards. Sign up for information and the schedule at http://www.STEMxCon.com (and check out the very cool page that lets you see all the conference events in your own time zone!).


The Global Education Conference Network website
This website gives all thee details. Visit The Global Education Conference Network at: http://www.globaleducationconference.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

How to follow the Stemx Conference
It's amazing how you can follow virtual conferences using technology these days. Linda Lindsay, a librarian from Hawaai has written a great post on her blog entitled ‘ 7 Ways to Follow STEMxCon Sept. 19-21, 2013’ in which she lists the various options for attending virtually. 


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Google Summit Buddy Registration offer, optional Pre-Summit workshop and more...


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imageThe Google in Education K-12 summit, which is being hosted by SchoolNet and Parklands College at Parklands College in Cape Town on 26th and 27th September, is just around the corner! We are all very excited about this event and the potential it holds for the South African educator. Have you registered? (http://za.gafesummit.com) In this email we want to emphasise the Buddy System that the Ed Tech Team have agreed to for any new registrations, and also point your attention again to the optional Pre-Summit workshop.

More about the Buddy System
If you are still keen to attend the Google Summit but the price is holding you back, please find a colleague or friend that paid the early bird rate of $199 and ask if you can become their 'buddy'. This will entitle you to also register at the early bird rate of $199! There is no provision on the Google Summit website for this offer, so to participate please write to mathapelo@schoolnet.org.za with your buddy's name and email address (the one who has already registered and paid) plus your name and email address. Mathapelo will then compile a list to send to Chris Bell of the Ed Tech Team.  

The optional Pre-Summit one day workshop
We bring your attention again to the Google Pre-Summit one day workshop which is an optional extra for $199 that you can attend at Parklands College the day before the Summit starts, should you wish to. (There will just be ONE full day workshop at the price of $199). You can read more about what this one day workshop offers on the website and register accordingly (http://za.gafesummit.com/pre).


We look forward to meeting you at this not-to-be-missed Google Summit at Parklands College...we are very excited about it.